A San Fernando family of 12, including four children, cowered in fear at their home early on Wednesday after, what they first thought was a storm, turned out to be a National Security helicopter hovering, close to their roof.
Strong updraughts generated by the propeller caused several galvanize sheets on their roof to become loose and blow off.
When Guardian Media visited their home at Picton Street, Diamond Village yesterday, the living room section was roofless. The roof over three of their bedrooms had also peeled off, but the family put back the loose sheets and used concrete bricks to try to secure them.
The family is appealing for assistance to rebuild their home. Police said around midnight a getaway car used in a robbery was spotted by the police in the Diamond Village area.
Police pursued the vehicle which resulted in a high-speed chase and shootout in the Picton Street area. The suspects abandoned the car there and with the assistance of other officers, the Canine Unit and the helicopter, three suspects were eventually held at M2 Ring Road, Debe and Ste Madeleine.
Police recovered a pistol magazine at the scene.
In their bid to elude the police, the suspects reportedly ran through the family’s property in their bid to elude the police. Recounting the scary ordeal, Geeta Laldeo, 48, a part-time domestic worker, said she was watching television around midnight with husband Rajendra Katwaroo, 52, who is hearing impaired and a heart patient.
“We heard some shots from the road. I slid off the couch because me and he sit down watching the movie and we hear this po, po, po.”
She said she heard a bang on the front gate and people running through the yard. “We did not know what was going on.” Laldeo said they fell asleep and about 3.15 am she was awoken by her pregnant daughter.
“When I open my eye is because this loud thing I hearing, I thinking it was a storm or something, not thinking was a helicopter.”
She said she was expecting the helicopter because of the shooting, “but not on top of the house and they stay for so long. I start trembling, everybody.
“This child (five-year-old grandson) come out shaking. He heart could ah pop out he chest and he is asthmatic.”
She said the galvanize sheets on the roof were flapping and banging. She said sometime after the helicopter left, the roof covering the dining room area blew off.
Laldeo’s daughter Sunita Katwaroo, 30, a doubles wrapper, said she first thought she was dreaming.
“Then I hear this loud noise and when I open my eyes and look through the window I saw the curtain flying. I see the helicopter coming over the roof. There were plenty of lights on the helicopter.”
She said the helicopter hovered above for about 15 minutes, circled around the area and then hovered over their house for another 20 minutes.
While that was happening she said, “Everything was like flying all over. The children were scared. The children are scared of a helicopter and that hour of the morning for a helicopter to come and be circulating around the house, The children were screaming and bawling hard.”
She said everyone was traumatised. While she has no problem with the police doing their job, the police could have returned to see what damage was done to their home.
“I have no problem with them coming to look for what they came to look for but at the end of the day allyuh could ah show a little bit of courtesy to come back and see what went on with people home.”
Apart from Sunita and her mother, the only other person employed in the house in Sunita’s brother-in-law, Stephen Sookhoo, 26, who is a barber. Sunita’s sisters Reena, 26 and Reshma, 24, who is five months’ pregnant, her brother Yadesh, 14, as well as Sunita’s five-year-old son, twin nieces, age two, live in the house.
Unable to afford any roof repairs to their humble home, Sunita who works twice a week on a doubles van appealed for assistance.
“This is we little house here. We have a family. We all try to live happy at the end of the day, but if we could get some assistance that would be so grateful from anyone because right now we cannot sleep in we house. If rain comes right now we have nowhere to go.”
Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal has arranged for the family to visit his office today. He said he will try to assist them in any way possible and he will also be contacting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on the issue.
Among the officers involved were PCs Vincent, Boodlal, Ramgatee, Paul, Sinaswee and Sujeet Ramcharan.
- by Sascha Wilson. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.