(CMC) – President of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT), Rajiv Diptee on Monday called on the police to provide business owners with a gun license after gunmen shot and killed a 49-year-old supermarket owner over the weekend.
Diptee, speaking on a radio programme, said that the association has been working closely with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) “to see how more resilient crime-fighting measures can be put in place because we have been noticing this increase in robberies and larcenies since the reopening of the economy last year.”
“What we will suggest is that law-abiding business owners who are suitably qualified within the remits of the law be granted their (firearm user’s license). The most complaints we get are from supermarket owners who have applied, and not getting approved.”
Police said that Bing Zhu Zhang, 49, the owner of the Golden City Supermarket, was shot and killed on Friday night as three armed bandits attempted to rob his business place. Police later said one of three gunmen was shot and killed by lawmen. The other two suspects are in custody after they were intercepted near the San Juan river on the outskirts of the capital.
“We have a situation where there are not near enough patrols to cover all of the hot spots across Trinidad and Tobago and this lends a particular vulnerability to those whom the criminal elements regard as soft targets when they go after these establishments,” Diptee said.
“So what we are simply asking for is the consideration being made with urgency for members of the business community who have a means to defend themselves at this time,” he added, noting that “the stark reality of the crime situation facing members of the business community today is one in which we cannot afford 24/7 armed security personnel at these types of establishments.”
“We have a crime situation where criminals are coming out in numbers, each one of them with more sophisticated firearms,” he said.
Trinidad and Tobago has recorded 156 murders so far this year. Last year, the country recorded a total of 605 murders, the most in its history.