Trinidad: Valencia Schoolboy Murdered While Playing Football

(TT GUARDIAN) – With his hands raised to the heavens, Levi Paul wept as he questioned why his 14-year-old son was murdered while playing football on Saturday night.

Paul’s son, Kiel, died on the scene after gunmen stormed a football game at the KP Lands in Valencia on Saturday night, opening fire on the players.

When the gunmen left, Kiel’s lifeless body was found in the cricket nets, while a 26-year-old man identified as Brian Burnette was found nursing gunshot wounds.

Burnette was rushed to the Sangre Grande Hospital, where he is said to be warded in critical condition.

In a brief interview at the family’s home in Valencia on Sunday morning, the elder Paul said he was in shock over his son’s murder.

Paul said he had been celebrating his birthday in Arima on Saturday night and only learnt of his son’s death on Sunday morning. Paul said he separated from Kiel’s mother some years ago and the teen lived with his mother and stepfather in Valencia.

Weeping, Paul said Kiel was supposed to visit his home for a “big bash.” He said instead of having a birthday celebration, he was mourning the death of his first son.

The distraught father said he last spoke to Kiel on Friday.

“He said, “Daddy I have to go to school, I need money.” He asked me to open a bank account for him,” Paul said.

Kiel’s mother, Sarah Subah, was too distraught to speak.

His grandmother, who gave her name only as Eva, described Kiel as a nice, respectful and disciplined child.

“It is hurting me to see good gone and bad remains,” Eva said.

Quoting Bible scriptures, she added, “God says vengeance is mine, leave it to him. God allows this to happen so that others will learn a lesson.”

Kiel’s stepfather, who gave his name only as Antonio, said Kiel left their home at around 9.15 pm on Saturday, saying he was going to meet his sister. Instead, the teen met up with his friends for the football game at the nearby savannah.

Antonio said he heard the gunshots that killed Kiel but paid no mind to the sounds until he looked out the window and saw the footballers running for their lives.

He said when he looked closely, he realised Kiel’s body was on the ground.

“We were shocked, his mother began screaming and continues to cry, I also cried and we were not able to control ourselves. This teen was alive and with us only a few minutes ago and to see his lifeless body on the ground shocked all of us,” Antonio said.

He described Kiel as respectful and obedient, saying the teen never gave him or his wife any cause to worry about his safety.

“I am still to come to terms with his killing,” Antonio said.

He said Kiel was a bright student and a member of his school’s football team. He wanted to play international football and was inspired by Argentine footballer, Lionel Messi.

Several residents told Guardian Media the gunmen showed no respect for human life, describing the shooting as a scene from the “Wild West.”

Calling for speedy justice, the residents said it is time for criminals to put their guns down.

One resident said if the other footballers had not scampered to safety, the death toll could have been much higher.

Kiel’s body was viewed by District Medical Officer Dr Gina White who made a pronouncement and ordered the body be removed to Sangre Grande Hospital mortuary from where it will be taken to the Forensic Sciences Centre for post-mortem.

Asp Jankie, Sgts Edwards, Leon, Pc Sookdeo and other officers attached ERP and Special Patrol of Valencia Police Post visited the scene. CCTV footage of the incident was handed over to the officers.

Kiel’s murder has pushed the total for the year so far to 131.