Although he is promising a thorough investigation into last night’s killings of five young men in Laventille, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is warning criminals not to challenge the police with gunfire.
Speaking on CNC3’s Morning Brew hours after the shootings, Griffith said, "I am pleading with people not to engage in wrongdoing. The TTPS will outgun you. We have greater firepower, more specialised training, so do not challenge us." Griffith said the police were on patrol when they were fired upon and had to call for backup. He said the young men continued to fire on the police, who retaliated.
Saying criminals also had sophisticated weapons which can be used in wars, Griffith said, "If you want a war you will get a war. If you have illegal guns you will be dealt with. Do not challenge the police because we will arrest you."
Griffith also said T&T had become a lawless society.
"We have to check ourselves. Be responsible for your actions and do not justify breaking the law," he said.
He said the Head of Homicide will be investigating the killings, which occurred at 10.20 am at Trou Macaque, Laventille. Two of the men killed were identified as Meshack “Crash” Douglas and Kadeem Williams, while another was identified only as Shaquille.
Griffith said the loss of five lives was unfortunate, adding that the traumatised relatives and police involved in the shooting will get psychological assistance to help them cope with this ordeal.
"Nobody should rejoice over this. It is very unfortunate and will be thoroughly investigated," Griffith said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has urged youths to put down their guns and refrain from attacking the police. As police put systems in place to prevent any retaliation, Rowley said there will be more trauma if armed young men decide to attack police.
"The loss of any citizen's life, through violence, is particularly traumatic for any family and community where it occurs. 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," Rowley said in a statement.
Saying youths should avoid joining a life of crime, Rowley said they ought to take advantage of many employment opportunities available.
"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," Rowley said.
He urged citizens to embrace the country’s watchwords of discipline, tolerance and production, saying in order for Trinidad and Tobago to propel higher a joint effort between society and law enforcement is required.
"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," the Prime Minister said.
- Radhica De Silva