Fear Grips Tobago As Island Records Quadruple Murder

(TT GUARDIAN) – Tobago’s murder toll has hit a record high after gunmen in camouflage shot and killed four men in Black Rock yesterday morning. With five months left in the year, these murders have pushed the island’s toll to 16 for 2024 so far, surpassing last year’s total of 14.

In what is being described by police as an ongoing revenge killing spree between two groups, which began in Mt Pleasant a week ago, Black Rock residents and businesses are now in fear that the war has reached their community.

The deceased have been identified as Anslem Douglas, Gregory Hamlet, and Samuel Mc Cain and Jamoki Duncan.

While three of the men were killed on the spot, Duncan died last night at the Scarborough General Hospital.

Police told Guardian Media just after midnight that the men were gambling at Douglas’ home along Black Rock Main Road when they were ambushed by three men. The men were shot about the body. They were all pronounced dead at the scene. The fourth victim was shot and suffered a broken leg during his escape, police sources told Guardian Media.

Relatives say Douglas was collateral damage

A relative of Douglas, who didn’t want to be named, believes he was collateral damage, and the intended target was Mc Cain, who lives in Mt Pleasant. She said the family is in shock and having a hard time dealing with the murder. She said, “If you shoot him, why you had to shoot him in his head when you’re leaving? They could have left him; he already got shot in his chest.

“I just hear about eight gunshots. My mother screamed out ‘gunshots’. We saw the men come out and circle the shop, then went under the shop to see who was hiding. They found a boy hiding under there and they kicked him up. “The family is grieving. They are devastated; they don’t want to talk, they are in shock.”

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She has no words for those responsible and has no intention of forgiving the perpetrators anytime soon. “It makes no sense to tell them to put down the guns. People say Black Rock is a hot area, but it is people who come to the village and do what they have to do. These men came for somebody, and I don’t think they got who they wanted, yet.”

And she has no faith in the police. “Too much shooting and killing in Tobago. Crime going on, and it feels like nothing is being solved.”

‘Tobago is no longer safe’

Residents were tight-lipped and in fear of being the next target. Some were even baffled by the situation. Still, Guardian Media managed to speak to residents and one business in the community. It appears the fear of possibly being the next target weighed heavily on those who lived nearby and even others who witnessed the gunmen fleeing the scene.

At 2 pm yesterday, the lively community stood still. One man who didn’t want to be named said Tobago is no longer safe. “Imagine there are children living in this yard. You can’t tell me people still have a heart. What could really cause this? It bothering (sic) bad.”

A shop owner said that while the area has had its share of violence over the past decade, the murders yesterday rocked the community.

“We would have one murder, probably a shooting … All the years I lived here. I can’t even recall we having a double murder. We have a former chief secretary living in the community, and many other stalwarts that built Tobago living here. You’re telling me nobody is safe now? It’s just (to) pack up and leave this whole place. Police can’t manage this.”

One off-duty police officer said he left the area a couple of minutes before the incident. By the time he returned, he met the gruesome scene.

Another man, a mechanic, was hesitant to even give his comments off-camera. He said he didn’t want anything out there that would make him the next easy target. However, he admitted to being scared.

At one liming corner near Black Rock New Road, Guardian Media overheard a discussion on the murder. One man questioned why the perpetrators would feel comfortable enough to enter the community, suggesting they were outsiders or even gang members from Trinidad.

Tobago top cop to residents: Do not panic

Meanwhile, police have asked Tobagonians not to panic. “At this point in time, I assure you all is not lost. We are still policing the island. The police were out and about when the incident happened. It was just unfortunate these persons found themselves in such an unwanted situation.”

Hazel pleaded with Tobagonians to band together and “root out the recklessness happening in Tobago.” He also conceded that Tobago now has a new problem involving high-powered guns, which were used in yesterday’s killings.

In May, a batch of 24 officers from the Interagency Task Force and the Guard and Emergency Branch were deployed to enhance crime-fighting capabilities. Hazel said these officers have been working and were able to dismantle an evolving plot by one gang last Friday.

Yesterday’s triple murder comes days after a shooting in Mt Pleasant on July 4, where two men were injured and Valsayn resident Desiree Lawrence was killed. Exactly one week ago, as Tobago braced for the impact of Hurricane Beryl, Nathan Roach was killed in his bedroom by an unknown gunman at his Mt Pleasant home.

Gunmen then returned to the home and attacked a male relative, who managed to escape.