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(CMC) – Police Commissioner Gary Griffith Friday promised a “thorough investigation” into the deaths of five people who died during a shootout with police on Thursday night in the volatile Laventille area, along the east-west corridor.
“The head of Homicide is investigating this matter. We wish to give the assurance to the public this will be thoroughly investigated,” Griffith said on a television programme here Friday, adding that the Victims and Support Unit would be made available to the families of those killed as well as to the police officers involved in the shootout.
The five men killed have been identified as Meshack “Crash” Douglas, Kadeem Williams, Shaquille Francois, Shaundell St. Clair and Nicholas Barker. Police said they recovered two firearms.
Griffith said while he was not in a position to disclose more information about the shootout, he described the incident “as unfortunate” adding that the police were on patrol in the area when they came under gunfire.
‘They called for back-up through the use of the Command Center and there was an exchange of gunfire. As I indicated this matter will be thoroughly investigated.
“We have lost the lives of five young men and having said that however. I want to plead again to those individuals who have gone in the wrong direction that the Trinidad and Tobago Police service, we will outgun you, we have a greater fire power…we have numerical superiority.
”This is not the way to go to challenge the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service,” he said, telling viewers that “if you see the type of firepower that is out there with these criminal elemenst they have sophisticated machinery…that can be used in a war.
“If it is a war they want that is what they will get. Any person who has a firearm or points a firearm at any police officer you will be killed or you will end up in prison.”
Griffith said he was pleading with “these young people do not challenge the Trinidad and Tobago Police and go on the right side of the law”.
Earlier, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley called on young people to turn away from a life of crime noting that “the loss of any citizen’s life, through violence, is particularly traumatic for any family and community where it occurs”.
In a statement, Prime Minister Rowley said that ‘this emotion is multiplied many fold when young men arm themselves and engage law enforcement officers. This misguided activity always has the potential to end in unspeakable tragedy for all involved, officers and civilians”.
He said that the news that fives lives were lost during a firefight with law enforcement officers “brings us to such a place.
“Once again I appeal to all our young men who see opportunity through the power of the illegal firearm, to think again and grasp the other opportunities which the country offers to all its citizens, rewards which are assured if we embrace our national watchwords of discipline, production and tolerance”.
Rowley said that there is “no good end to bad deeds, bad company and a life of crime.
“Our country deserves better but to accomplish that goal we all have to want it and commit to work towards it. Law enforcement cannot do it alone,” he added.
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