‘Helicopter ripped off our roof’

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.

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