By Jensen La Vende
January 22, 2016 – guardian.co.tt
Slaughter of the innocents. That was how Laventille residents yesterday described the double murder of two schoolboys, who were dragged from a taxi and shot dead while on their way home at Upper Picton Road.
The victims have been identified as Success Laventille Secondary School students Denelson Smith, 17, and Mark Richards, 16, by residents of Upper Picton Road, Laventille.
Mark Thomas, a member of Project Reason, who lives in the community, told the T&T Guardian that the killing of the two was a slaughter.
“If I could speak to the gangsters and them I will tell them that in all wars there are rules of engagement, please excuse the non-combatants. If you know there are people who not in this war, I can’t even call this a war that what happened was slaughter. They picking out the best fruits,” Thomas said.
He said Smith was an aspiring pilot, and had been attending aviation classes every July-August vacation. Thomas said crime was a disease and it should be treated as such, adding that one cure was for the people to unite against the wrongdoers and co-operate with the police.
“Maybe we could stop a retaliation, we as the people have the power but we keeping silent. We have to come together and take away the power from them (killers),” he added.
Police said the teens, both Form Four students, were on their way home with two other classmates when gunmen stopped the car they were in, ordered all the children out and shot the two teens.
Smith collapsed and died near Fatima Trace while Richards died a short distance away. The teens lived not from where they died. Smith lived at Mulrain Trace, Picton, and Richards at Sogren Trace. The killing police said happened around 3.15 pm.
At the murder scene yesterday Smith’s brother, Devin, called for a ceasefire among warring gangs.
He said his brother was always indoors and only ventured outside when it was time for school or when he was going out to lime with friends out of the area. He said his brother was a good person who got along well with all.
“I hear people laughing up the road, saying they get two and they laughing,” Devin said.
Smith’s mother screamed that her son’s death will become just another statistic and that no justice wil come out of her son’s killing. Overcome with grief she could not be interviewed when approached at the scene.
Both police and residents were wrestling with a plausible motive for the shooting as neither teens were said to be involved in anything illegal.
A woman, who lives not too far from where the boys were killed, said she has lived in the area for most of her 60-plus years and described the tragedy as “heart-rending.” The woman said the presence of police officers in the area could not be a deterrent until the minds of mankind change.
Her neighbour said he was just entering his home when he heard the gunshots and later saw Smith’s body a short distance from his car which was parked along Picton Road.
“I accustomed to this but this is the first time that it was so close. I living here all my life, 54 years, and we tired of this shooting,” he said, suggesting a police post in the area may be a deterrent.