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14-month-old baby shot dead


"HOW does one feel when he kill a 14-month-old baby girl," Carlton Baptiste, 74, sobbed yesterday as he spoke about the death of baby Zakia Mitchell. The baby was shot dead on Sunday night while in her mother's arms. Mom, Kadeisha Mitchell, just 15 years old, was also shot. Baptiste said the family's house at Pierreville, Mayaro, was sprayed with bullets at about 11.45 pm by an unknown gunman. Police are treating the killing as murder, in which the assailant was attempting to execute a male friend of Mitchell, who was in the house at the time. According to a police report, Mitchell picked up Zakia at 11.45 pm and entered the kitchen, which is situated at the back of the small wooden house. Mitchell went to get food for a 20-year-old friend, Keith "Cousin" Mc Intosh. Mc Intosh was standing outside of the kitchen door, looking at 13-year-old Khellon Mitchell, who was repairing a bicycle on the steps. Khellon, a Standard Five pupil at St Thomas RC School, is Mitchell's younger brother.

According to the report, while holding Zakia as she dished out food with the other hand, a loud explosion was heard. Police said Mitchell and the baby slumped to the ground as several bullets struck Zakia in the face, chest and stomach. Mitchell was hit in the left hand, left side of the face and chest. The top half of the wooden kitchen door was riddled by bullets, the report stated. Both baby and mother lay on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. Zakia, the report stated, was grabbed from her mother's arms by Khellon. Police said the boy ran with the baby to the nearby Mayaro District Hospital. Zakia, police said, died while undergoing medical treatment. Mitchell was taken by foot to the hospital. She was treated and transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital, where she was warded in critical condition up to yesterday.

Police believe that a 12 or a 16-gauge shotgun was used by the assailant. Preliminary investigations revealed that the assailant fired the shots while standing in the street behind the house. Yesterday, the baby's grandmother, Erlene Baptiste, 34, sat in the gallery of her home with her father, Carlton Baptiste, mourning the baby's death. "How does one feel now knowing that he killed a baby? Is he a father, a brother or an uncle? What is he thinking now?" great grandfather Baptiste said as tears rolled down his cheeks.

Erlene told Newsday, "I don't know why they did what they did, but all I can say is that I am sure that it was not an accident." Khellon, who witnessed the incident, told Newsday that he was fixing his bicycle tyre when he heard a gunshot. "When I hear the gun went off, I dive on the ground lying on my belly. When I look at the back of the house, I saw some fellas running down the road. When I look in the kitchen for my sister and my niece, I saw them on the floor." South Eastern Division's Sen Supt Bastien is leading the investigation.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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