While members of the Defence Force maintain that their fallen comrade, Lance Corporal Marcus Gay and Corporal Marc Blunt were on surveillance duty at a wake in Princes Town when they were shot, residents are contending the soldiers were there to execute a hit.
Residents in fact told the T&T Guardian yesterday that they were preparing for a battle with soldiers after their lives were allegedly threatened. They called for an investigation into the soldiers’ conduct, claiming they were hired hit men and the regiment was trying to cover up the fact that the army went into a private residence where they shot and critically wounded innocent mourners.
Police reported that around 11.15 pm on Monday, St Mary’s officers responded to a report of a shooting in Fifth Company, in an area known as Dougla City. On arrival the officers found Blunt lying on the roadway with gunshot wounds to his leg and Gay suffering with gunshot wounds on the side of an unfinished house.
Officers also found Victor Brown, 30, with a gunshot wound to his head and his brother Vincent, 26, with a wound to his chest. The brothers were attending their mother Angela Willie’s wake. Willie died last Saturday of a heart attack. Another resident, Gerard Graham, suffered a gunshot wound to his hand and church member Renrick St Clair was shot in his leg. The Browns were taken to the Princes Town District Health Facility (PTDHF) by their brothers while the soldiers were picked up by their colleagues. Graham and Renwick were transported by an ambulance.
Gay was pronounced dead at the PTDHF while the others were transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital.
T&T Regiment public affairs officer Captain Cleavon Dillon said in a media release yesterday that they were ready to assist the police investigation. Efforts to ascertain why the men were there from Dillon and Defence Force senior public affair officer, Flight Lieutenant Monique Sprott, were unsuccessful.
But a Defence Force member said Gay and Blunt were part of the army’s intelligence unit who, from time to time, would assist the police. Police confirmed one of the victims was a suspect in a murder and a recent chopping in Princes Town among other crimes. Knowing the suspect was related to Willie, the officers said they suspected he would have come out of hiding to attend the wake. Blunt and Gay had communicated with investigating officers before going to locate the suspect. However, it is believed their cover was blown resulting in a gunfight.
A 29-year-old St Mary’s man is believed to be the main suspect in Monday night’s shooting.
Residents fear for lives
As crime scene investigators scoured the area for evidence yesterday, residents waited patiently for the soldiers to return.
Residents said following the shooting Blunt contacted his colleagues for help. They said when police pulled up on the roadside and trained their guns at Blunt, he raised his hands and told them he was a soldier. However, they said two soldiers then got out of the vehicle and started to threaten the residents. Within five minutes, a vehicle with approximately 10 soldiers arrived and they threatened to kill everyone unless they surrendered Gay’s gun that was taken while he lay bleeding. One resident, whose vehicle was damaged by gunshots, was allegedly told a soldier that he and his family would be wiped out.
The residents said one of the Brown brothers was accused of a recent chopping in Princes Town. The victims had vowed to pay someone to carry out a hit. They said when Gay and Blunt came on the scene they specifically asked for one of the Brown brothers. After that, the shooting erupted and a friend of the Browns drew his firearm in self defence.
The Browns’ younger brother Isaiah Gibson said the soldiers did not come to investigate as they allegedly just started shooting at the mourners.
“This was the second to last night of wake for my mother. They walked straight up in the wake and started to shoot. All here had people. It was full of people and the funeral was supposed to be tomorrow, but they put it off until Thursday,” Gibson said.
He said he did not know who picked up the gun, but another resident said it was one of the mourners who took it from Gay after the soldier allegedly shot Victor in his head.