Trinidad: Drive-By After Football Friendly Leaves 4 Dead

(TT GUARDIAN) – The decision to “take a sweat” in a friendly football match in the neighbourhood on Sunday night, ultimately cost 21-year-old Jayden Reyes his life.

The mass shooting at Lange Street, Gonzales, Belmont around 7.15 pm, also claimed the lives of three other men and sent three others, including a woman, to hospital.

The deceased were identified as Peter Williams, 31; Kevin “Grimes” King, 33; and Johnathon “Johnny/Jman” Arjoon, 23.

According to reports, the group had just finished playing football when a car pulled up and several gunmen got out and began shooting at them.

As the group scattered and other residents rushed to safety, the gunmen reportedly escaped in the waiting car and left the area.

But as relatives of the injured men placed them in the tray of a truck and took them to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (PoSGH), they were unaware the gunmen had been lying in wait and were, in fact, following them to finish the job.

As the truck with the victims arrived at the Ambulance Bay on the eastern side of the hospital and relatives of the injured men were assisting with handing them to medical personnel, a masked gunman reportedly appeared at the top of the ramp and began firing at the group.

This, even as other armed and masked men began firing at the victims as they lay in the tray of the truck.

Confirming her son had been clinging to life when they arrived at the hospital, Reyes’ mother yesterday said, “Jayden happened to be on the same van with the person who they came for.”

The grieving mother insisted her son had no association with any criminal or gang elements in the area and had taken a break from studies to take a sweat.

“It just happened to be everybody getting transported to the hospital,” she said.

Reyes’ younger brother, who had followed the truck to the PoSGH and had been assisting in getting the victims into the Accident and Emergency Department, was shot once in the face and twice about the body. The soldier, who is attached to the T&T Regiment, was said to be in a stable condition up to last night.

Speaking with reporters at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday, Reyes’ mother, who did not want to be identified, tearfully claimed that although he had been alive upon arrival at the PoSGH, hope that he would have survived was dashed.

“When the gunmen came they finished him off, so his body is now riddled with gunshots,” she said.
She described her sons as, “two well-grounded and educated men”.

Reyes was a third-year medical student whose dream was to become a paediatric surgeon. The graduate of St Mary’s College had been employed at the Republic Bank Call Centre and his mother insisted, “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Asked if she had been scared before to have her children growing up in Gonzales, given the transition of the neighbourhood over the years, Reyes’ mother said, “I have no problem with him growing up in that community because despite it being called a crime hotspot, you could see all the achievements he got in spite of all that…the both of my children.

“I never wanted him to be a product of his environment, and he was an example to people that you could do it.
“It is just so unfortunate that his life had to be cut short at the tender age of 21.”

Pressed to respond to comments by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds that gang killings/shootings were flourishing because citizens were turning a blind eye to it and were afraid to speak up, Reyes’ mother said self-preservation was now the name of the game because, “if you say something, you might very well meet your end”.

“Everybody afraid to come forward more or less, even if they have information.”

Despite this, she hopes justice will be served, although she is resigned to the fact it may never materialise.

Relatives of Arjoon and King agreed the long-time friends didn’t deserve the deaths they were given.

Arjoon was the father of a two-year-old girl, whilst King was the father of three children aged seven, two and several months old.

Both men were said to have worked in construction.

A relative of Arjoon said people who usually spoke out often met their deaths and as such, she was not hopeful anyone would be coming forward with information.

She called on the authorities to clearly define what a gang was, and who would be considered gang members, as law enforcement were constantly raiding homes and walking away empty-handed.