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Gang violence on the rise

regionalgangswarintrinidadPORT OF SPAIN — Police were kept busy yesterday after a resurgence of gang violence in east Port-of-Spain which claimed five lives, among them three teenagers.

Yesterday’s string of murders, plus another in Maloney Gardens, D’Abadie, on Tuesday night, raised the murder toll for the year to 240. The five victims were identified as:

* Aaron Williams, 23, of Building 9, Maloney Gardens, Arouca;

* Niam Antoine, 16, of Piccadilly Street, Port-of-Spain;

* Antoine’s 16-year-old cousin Rasheeda Gomez, also of Duncan Street, Port-of-Spain;

* Sean Lewis Jr, 17, of Trou Macaque Road, Laventille; and

* Christopher Peters, 27, of Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain.

Another man, who was unidentified, died last night having been shot at 6:30 a.m. yesterday at Blondell Alley, East Dry River, Port-of-Spain. Homicide detectives could not confirm whether all four incidents in east Port-of-Spain and Laventille were linked, but said the cousins’ murders were more than likely connected.

In the wake of the murder spree, scores of heavily-armed soldiers and police officers were seen patrolling the streets of east Port-of-Spain and Laventille up to late yesterday, in a bid to prevent reprisal killings.

In the first incident, around 4 a.m., Antoine was at his grandmother’s Duncan Street apartment when two men knocked on the front door.

Police said when Antoine opened the door, the men attacked him, pulled him outside and took him to a nearby alley. Minutes after Antoine was abducted, residents reported hearing a volley of gunshots.

When they checked behind nearby buildings on George Street, they found the teenager lying on the ground with gunshot wounds about his body. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Investigators said Antoine was shot more than 15 times.

Within hours of Antoine’s murder, homicide detectives were again called to the Housing Development Corporation apartment complex. Residents told police that around 2:15 p.m. they again heard a series of gunshots. When they checked Building 27 on Duncan Street, they found Shawndelle Brathwaite, 18, lying on the bottom of a flight of stairs which leads to an apartment he shared with Gomez, Antoine’s cousin. Brathwaite had been shot in the shoulder and chest.

When they checked the apartment, they found Gomez lying unconscious on the floor with several gunshot wounds. The couple was taken to Port-of-Spain General Hospital where Gomez was pronounced dead on arrival. Brathwaite underwent emergency surgery late yesterday and was listed in a critical condition.

While crime scene investigators and homicide detectives were processing the Gomez crime scene, they received a report of two murders in Laventille which occurred almost simultaneously. In one of the incidents, Lewis Jr was shot dead while repairing a car at a garage at Trotman Lane. Police said two gunmen sneaked up behind him and shot him six times in the head. He died on the scene. (Guardian)

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