(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – Three seconds after prison officer Nigel Michael Jones was shot dead in the business district of Siparia on Monday, a police patrol drove past his body and his screaming child.
Closed-circuit television camera footage of the killing showed the killers’ vehicle pulling alongside Jones, as he stood hand in hand with his six-year-old daughter.
The father and daughter had travelled into the town from his home in Fyzabad. He was holding a bag believed to contain toys and stationery.
Jones, who was armed, had no chance to pull his gun and defend himself before being shot multiple times.
The video showing the reaction of his child on seeing her father’s death has horrified the nation.
However, Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob told the Express that preliminary investigations stated that there were two women police officers in the patrol vehicle. He said the officers reported that they were armed and did respond to the incident, following the vehicles involved in the shooting for some time.
Jacob said senior officers have been mandated to investigate the actions of the police officers in an attempt to clarify what happened.
In a telephone interview last evening, Jacob said: “The ACP South covers that area and is mandated to do an investigation in relation to what took place and what was seen on social media. The initial information coming to hand is that there were two women police officers who were in fact traversing in that police vehicle as identified on social media. They followed the vehicle involved in the shooting. That vehicle lost the patrol vehicle and during that time they (police officers) had called for back-up and got some assistance from another patrol vehicle but the vehicle (suspects) evaded them.”
Jacob also dismissed reports that the officers in the patrol vehicle seen in the video footage were unarmed. He said the social media reports were not consistent with the information given by the officers.
“The ACP will conduct an investigation in an attempt to clarify what took place. If it is found that any untoward actions took place by these officers internal disciplinary action will be taken,” he said.
Jacob said homicide officers were interviewing seven persons detained during a police exercise in Carapo on Tuesday in connection with the murders of two prison officers – Jones and Trevor Serrette who was shot dead at his fruit stall in Valencia last week Friday.
Jacob said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) was pursuing all reports of death threats against prison officers.
The Express visited Jones’ home yesterday but no one was present.
Bodoe: Appoint a top cop
Fyzabad MP Lackram Bodoe has called on the Government to ensure that a Commissioner of Police is appointed in an expeditious manner. And he appealed to the Minister of National Security to ensure that the TTPS is adequately resourced, especially in the light of what appears to be increasing criminal activity.
Bodoe said the killing of prison officer Jones at the Fyzabad taxi stand in Siparia shows just how emboldened criminals have become in Trinidad and Tobago.
He said, “The fact that these criminals chose to gun down Mr Jones in broad daylight, in a public place, and in the presence of his six-year-old daughter, is a signal that they fear no one and will show no mercy regardless of the circumstances.”
Even the sight of Jones holding his daughter’s hand on the roadside did not deter the criminals from killing him.
“As a prison officer, he would have given service in the protection of society, in his role as a custodian of persons incarcerated for various criminal offences. The very fabric of society is threatened when citizens like Mr Jones, charged with the responsibility of looking after those in our prisons, can so easily be taken out,” he said.
Bodoe said Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, as an arm of the criminal justice system, is an important barrier that protects society from descending into anarchy. Therefore, he said, it is critical that more be done to protect prison officers.
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has expressed sadness and condolences to the family of the child who witnessed the murder of her father, prison officer Nigel Jones.
Condolences were also extended to the families of the teenagers who were murdered in Laventille last weekend.
The Authority said yesterday it has joined other agencies within the child protection sector to offer support to the six-year-old child and her family.
“In light of the traumatic nature of this incident, the Authority is appealing to the public to refrain from circulating the video of the murder in order to protect the child’s right to privacy and prevent further trauma,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The organisation noted that in these “challenging times, our children need emotional support since it is their right to feel protected and loved”.
Free psychosocial services are available to allow families to deal with trauma: The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services: 800-1673
The National Family Services Division: 623-2608 The Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists: 717-8827
The Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education: 724-1010
Children’s Authority: 996 or 800-2014.