By Richard Charan, Express TT
They tried to run and find a place to hide, but two men linked to drugs, guns and kidnap gangs could not escape their executioners who came from the hills of Laventille to kill them on Wednesday night.
Dexter "Apache" Matthews, 29, a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member, and Arthur Sandy, 30, died when four masked gunmen found their Princes Town hideout.
Matthews, a father of four, was a key suspect in several of the country’s high profile kidnappings, including that of Anthony Sabga II. He was also believed to be involved in the unsolved murder of kidnapper Shurlan "Cork" Jordan.
Sandy had fled Laventille recently after surviving a shooting attempt and the firebombing of his car. With a gunshot wound to the arm, he moved in with Matthews two weeks ago.
When the executioners came, Matthews' 23-year-old wife and three of their children hid under a bed and lived.
The killers left in a white Lancer car with a green marijuana leaf sticker plastered on the back windscreen.
The dead men's hideout was an apartment Matthews had rented at Tasker Road in the basement of a building. The building also housed a bar, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association's regional office and the Central Missions Foundation, a religious organisation which had a meeting in progress when the shooting started.
The meeting was on the crime spree in the country.
The double killing, police said, was linked to the ongoing gang war in Laventille.
Matthews, who had rented the apartment two months ago, was the first to die.
The video camera he had set up over his door to monitor the surroundings proved useless.
He was sitting inside his newly bought car, a $120,000 red Subaru, when his killers ran down the driveway.
Police said a pump action shotgun and Magnum 9-mm handgun were used in riddling the car with bullets. Matthews died under a nearby palm tree from wounds to the chest and back of the neck.
Also known as Riad Abdul Kadir, and Carlos Gonzales, Matthews died owing the State $6,000. Hours before he was killed, he had appeared before High Court Judge Rajendra Narine and pleaded guilty to having a loaded Glock handgun in his possession. He had originally been arrested and charged on November 18, 1993, at East Dry River.
The judge imposed a $6,000 fine after hearing that Matthews, who worked at the Auto Clinic in Penal, had not been charged or convicted of any other crime during the past nine years. However, investigators said he was suspected in several recent kidnappings and had made reports to the Princes Town police about threats to kill him.
He was given 28 days to pay the fine or serve jail time.
Sandy, a URP foreman, apparently saw the gunmen coming and ran into the house, telling Matthews' wife and three children to get under the bed.
The gunmen shot through the windows and killed him.
He died in the bedroom. He was shot at least three times, police said.
When police arrived, the mother and her children, a one-month-old baby, a two-year-old and a seven-year-old, were still cowering under the bed. The couple also had a nine-year-old son who was not at home.
Neighbours said they had no knowledge of who lived in the apartment.
Central Missions Foundation member Shamar Dipnarine said the congregation was holding a meeting on the premises when the shooting began.
"We were praying against crime. We saw a white car come up, reverse and park up. Then all we heard was bang, bang, bang. Then people crying like small children. I said ‘Lord what this country coming to'?"
Matthews' wife and children are being kept at a safe house by police.
The killers slipped through road blocks set up along possible get-away routes in Marabella and Gasparillo.
ASPs Krishna Maharaj and Trevor Paul, and Sgt Sudesh Singh and homicide officers are investigating.
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