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Tragedy at Police Headquarters

By Samuel Mcknight,

A constable attached to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS) was shot dead on Thursday night when the gun his colleague was cleaning was reported to have accidentally triggered off in the charge room at Police Headquarters.

According to investigations around 11.50 pm, constables Sheldon Narine, 28, and Ricardo Guerra, 34, both members of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, entered the charge room at Police Headquarters after a police exercise.

Narine began cleaning his UZI automatic firearm when it accidentally triggered off, firing nine shots. Three hit Guerra in the stomach, hand and leg. Guerra, a father of two, was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) where he died while in the operating theatre. Narine was also shot in the hand and is warded under police guard PoSGH.

The two men, each with five years of service, were described as close friends who were recently transferred from the Besson Street Police Station to the AKS.

At a press conference at Police Headquarters yesterday, Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul extended his condolences to friends, relatives, siblings and associates of the dead officer and offered trauma counselling to the family and officers who worked with Guerra. Paul confirmed the shooting and assured the public that the incident would be thoroughly investigated.

He also called on the public not to jump to any conclusions before the investigations are complete. However, other officers have already denied that there was any bad blood between Narine and Guerra.

In his brief statement, Paul explained, "to clean a gun there are certain precautionary steps which must be taken." "The nozzle," he said, "should face either up or down and there should not be a second person in the room." He also alluded to the possibility that this had not been done. ASP Nizam Khan has been mandated to investigate the incident.

Paul assured the public that information should reach his desk sometime next week and once complete, the findings would be presented to the public.

In unrelated matters, Paul also assured the public that one person was held, questioned and released, while a second man is now assisting police into Wednesday’s bombing at George Street, Port-of-Spain.

He also said there will be an investigation into the police killing of Kenneth Hamilton on Tuesday morning at Fatima Trace, Mentor Alley, Port-of-Spain.

This is now a source of controversy, with the police accusing Hamilton of being a gang-member and the family insisting that he was not involved in illegal activities, and was killed in cold blood by the police. Family members are demanding their own pathologist perform the autopsy and have vowed to continue daily protests in the Mentor Alley area until the request is granted.

Their placard protest yesterday resulted in a physical confrontation between residents and police.

They have also refused to identify the body until they get that assurance.

To date, 12 persons have been shot dead by police under questionable circumstances.

Venice Guerra, father of police constable Ricardo Guerra, who was accidentally shot dead by a colleague, is calling on the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate his son’s death.

Ricardo Guerra was described by all as warm and friendly. He was affiliated with the church and was never involved in things which he viewed as immoral. Venice said Ricardo visited him on Wednesday at his Cumuto home, and they had a discussion concerning the opening of a business together. He told his father he was going to ask for a transfer from the Anti-Kidnapping Squad. He also said if he was not successful he would have considered resigning and going into a vehicle alignment and wheel-balancing business full-time.

Ricardo’s wife, Katherine, was not available for comment, but relatives said she is traumatised and unable to say much.

His two children Kala, 11, and Kendell, seven, are still trying to come to terms with their father’s death.

His sister, Arleen Guerra, is disturbed by her brother’s death, and hopes that justice will be served. "We are hoping and praying that God will bring all the darkness to light," she said.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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