A brazen robbery by three gunmen at Gold Kingdom Jewelry, Trincity Mall created a panic amongst midday shoppers and mall-goers yesterday after shots were fired inside the packed establishment while the men escaped on foot.
The incident left employees from nearby stores traumatized and calling for increased security patrols along with the installation of scanners at the various entrances to assist with detecting criminal elements operating inside the mall.
There were reports the armed men made off with an estimated $350,000 worth of jewelry.
But in a statement a few hours later, the police service said two men were arrested following the roobbery.
The police service said officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) responded to the report that three men held up the clerks at the store and subsequently escaped in a white AD Wagon bearing registration number PBY 7440.
The SORT officers conducted a search for the assailants and intercepted the vehicle at Ken Morris Avenue, La Horquetta where they arrested two men.
But before the men were detained by police, visitors and shoppers added their voices to the call for increased security both inside and outside the establishment.
Police reports indicate around 12.40 pm - three loud explosions were heard coming from inside the store located on the first floor between Friction and Kristina’s on the eastern side of the facility.
Vashty Ganess said, “I heard a woman begging for them not to shoot her or her children. I heard the bang and started running with the other people and felt a bullet go past my leg and land on the ground.”
Ganess, who lives in Arouca, reported that her normal Saturday routine includes lunch and shopping at the mall - with the requisite stop at the Play Whe booth located just outside the jewelry store.
“I was at the Play Whe machine when I heard the first shot and initially thought was the escalator but then I hear the woman begging for her life and her children and when I watch to see what was happening, the bandits were already running out of the mall.”
She added, “I ran over to a store and they pulled me inside and locked the door, but I was so scared…my legs were trembling.”
Ganess and other eye-witnesses confirmed the three men had been decked out in Marvin Gaye hats and hooded sweatshirts.
She questioned, “What is the country coming to now? Imagine in daylight and you at the mall and suddenly, shooting inside.”
While the mall’s security officers reacted almost immediately to cordon off the area and reassure persons, there were mixed reactions from some who felt that more now needs to be done by the mall’s management to secure the facility and also provide shoppers with a greater sense of security.
Within minutes of the robbery, closed-circuit television footage posted on social media showed the three men escaping via an entrance on the eastern side of the mall, running through the carpark, across the grassy area and jumping the big drain which runs parallel to the compound’s perimeter.
It is believed the men would have made their way across the highway and into the Oropune Gardens area.
The Trincity and Long Circular Malls are both owned by the HCL Group of Companies.
In a post to their FaceBook page approximately one hour after the incident, officials wrote, “Attention our loyal shoppers:
We have confirmed reports that there was an attempted armed robbery at Trincity Mall. The TTPS is on the scene conducting investigations. The Mall’s CCTV footage of the incident has been assisting the TTPS with the investigations.
Be advised that Trincity Mall remains open for business as usual. As you go about your business in the Mall be aware of your surroundings and do not hesitate to contact mall security, should you feel unsafe. Security officers are out and about in all areas of the mall to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”
The post drew mixed reactions from members of the public who expressed disgust that the mall had remained open for business.
Kars A-Ali wrote, “Of course Trincity Mall will open for business....its all about money and not safety right. How many cars went missing on your compound.....very disappointing...and u have the audacity to say open for business.”
Shane SrDigital posted, “What extra security measures would be taken to restrict these PESTS from entering the malls? This could have gone all wrong with many innocent shoppers being victims! I only come to that mall when I really need something, unfortunately, I was there today but on the other end, thank god for that, all those potholes is another disgusting factor as well, I’ll pay the extra bucks to shop on-line! I’ve seen so many disgusting stink, scary looking pests just roaming and hanging around in dat mall on so many occasions. Imagine this is a normal weekend not a month-end, Christmas or Carnival weekend.”
Employees at a nearby store remained open for business as they complained that security officers at the mall were unarmed and were usually very late to respond whenever the situation warranted.
They revealed that as little as two weeks ago, at least two persons had been robbed in the car-park while countless others have had their vehicles broken into and items were stolen.
Admitting they were shaken by the incident and fearful with the Christmas season approaching as they would have to work longer hours, the workers urged the mall’s management to implement greater security measures immediately.
Several attempts to speak with the store’s owner to ascertain exactly what was stolen and the value of the items proved futile.
- by Anna-Lisa Paul. Photo by Nicole Drayton.