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Trinidad: Stray Bullet Misses Student, Grazes Teacher

guardian.co.tt- Gun­men climbed on­to rooftops of the Plan­nings at Up­per and Low­er Nel­son Street and fired off “warn­ing/mes­sage” gun­shots at each oth­er yes­ter­day morn­ing when five stray bul­lets end­ed up pen­e­trat­ing a class­room at the South East Port-of-Spain Sec­ondary School.

One of the bul­lets ric­o­cheted and grazed a fe­male teacher on the hand, while an­oth­er bul­let went just over the head of a pupil while he was sit­ting his end of term ex­am­i­na­tion, miss­ing his head by mere cen­time­tres.

The teacher was in a class­room lo­cat­ed on the sec­ond floor su­per­vis­ing ex­am­i­na­tions at the time of the in­ci­dent which oc­curred dur­ing the sec­ond pe­ri­od of the day just be­fore 10 am.

Guardian Me­dia was told by po­lice sources that the bul­lets would have en­tered the school’s com­pound from the back of the school.

Speak­ing with Guardian Me­dia, un­der strict anonymi­ty, a teacher, who was there at the time of the in­ci­dent, said for cer­tain the pupil had a guardian an­gel over him. “He was sit­ting for­ward in his chair writ­ing his test, if he was on­ly sit­ting up he would have been shot in the head. There were ac­tu­al­ly bul­let holes in the wall to the back of the class­room and one of the bul­lets ric­o­cheted and struck the teacher in her hand.”

The teacher de­scribed the “warn­ing/mes­sages” shots as “nor­mal” and added that it oc­curs on a dai­ly ba­sis, “We have be­come so ac­cus­tomed hear­ing gun­shots all around us but now that this in­ci­dent has hap­pened and one of us in­jured and a child was so close to be­ing ei­ther se­ri­ous­ly wound­ed or dead it has be­come very trau­mat­ic that some of us are fright­ened to re­turn to school.”

TT Uni­fied Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (TTUTA) pres­i­dent An­to­nia De­Fre­itas, in an im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the in­ci­dent, con­firmed the in­ci­dent and added that there stands now “se­ri­ous con­cerns for the lives of the teach­ers.”

Asked if TTUTA will be ap­proach­ing the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to dis­cuss re­lo­cat­ing schools that are in high risk ar­eas be­cause of safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns, De­Fre­itas said: “There were dis­cus­sions years ago but I think the time has come for those dis­cus­sions to be raised again.”

When con­tact­ed an of­fi­cial at the min­istry said that sub­se­quent to the in­ci­dent the school’s emer­gency pro­to­cols were im­me­di­ate­ly kicked in, which in­clud­ed the pupils be­ing es­cort­ed to a safe place, se­cu­ri­ty in­creased at the school and the po­lice called in to do in­ves­ti­ga­tions and to de­clare the build­ing safe again to de­ter­mine when class­es can re­sume.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said is as­sur­ing the school’s teach­ers, stu­dents and par­ents that all ef­forts are be­ing made to en­sure the safe­ty of all per­sons on the com­pound.

“An in­creased se­cu­ri­ty pres­ence in the vicin­i­ty of the school has been arranged, in ad­di­tion to an in­crease in the num­ber of po­lice pa­trols in the area,” the state­ment said.

The min­istry said that a se­nior school su­per­vi­sor from the Port-of-Spain and En­vi­rons Ed­u­ca­tion Dis­trict vis­it­ed the school and in­ves­ti­gat­ed the in­ci­dent. Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia, said, “The safe­ty of our teach­ers and our stu­dents and all those of our per­sons who op­er­ate with­in the school en­vi­ron­ment, is para­mount. The scare that was caused by the ap­par­ent gun­shot, is of great con­cern to us. Our stu­dents and teach­ers must be al­lowed to op­er­ate in an en­vi­ron­ment that is safe and con­ducive to the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cur­ricu­lum.”

The min­istry added that fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, per­son­nel from the Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices Di­vi­sion im­me­di­ate­ly pro­vid­ed coun­selling for staff and stu­dents and will con­tin­ue to pro­vide sim­i­lar in­ter­ven­tions as re­quired.

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