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Pensioner killed, 4 wounded in South shooting

Published: 
Sunday, August 12, 2018
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Stephen Pope

RADHICA DE SILVA

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When gunfire erupted outside his son's business place early yesterday, pensioner Stephen Pope, 65, left his bed and crouched down on his front porch hoping to get a glimpse of the action.

But his curiosity cost him his life when a stray bullet struck him on the head, killing him instantly. Four others—John Charles, 23, John Mark Ashford, 27, Anthony Mitchell, 32, and Elon Chatterpaul, 25, were also injured during the shooting which took place around 4:50 am outside Hashtag Lounge at Cipero Street, San Fernando.

Thirty-five spent shells were recovered from the scene of the crime. Charles and Ashford of Bayshore, Marabella, remained in critical conditions yesterday at the San Fernando General Hospital having been shot in the chest and back. Mitchell, who was shot in the leg, remains warded in a stable condition while Chatterpaul, who got a bullet graze, was treated and discharged.

During an interview yesterday, a close relative of Pope, who requested anonymity, said they were asleep upstairs when they heard the sound of gunfire.

"Then everything died down. We went to the porch to see what was going on. People were in a panic, running, cussing..." the relative recalled. He said they began hearing louder voices followed by the sound of breaking glass.

"I tell him to let us move from here. It getting rowdy downstairs. People started to pelt bottles. Others started to run. I told him to move but he was a man who liked to do his own thing. He told me " 'I seeing it!' " Then suddenly, there was more gunfire and he slumped to the ground.

The relative said he crawled to Pope and saw him bleeding from a wound to the head. The bullet exited through the back of his head.

"I took a towel and started to apply pressure to stop the bleeding. It was chaos," the relative said. The bar owner David Pope called the ambulance however, the relative said the paramedics were more interested in knowing who did the shooting.

"It was ridiculous. Eventually, we picked him up and put him in the car and took him to the hospital," the relative said. He died a short while later.

Saying the crime situation in T&T was out of control, the relative said Trinidadians were too interested in partying.

"Party is all they want to do and they calling it our culture. It is not the Government that is responsible for the crime, it is our people, the way we think and behave."

Police increase patrols at bar

Head of Operations Insp Don Gajadhar said that officers have increased patrols at bars. He said a team checked in at Hashtag around 4 am, an hour before the shooting occurred. Gajadhar said it was impossible to have a continuous police presence at every bar.

"People are hiding their firearms in bushes and when an argument happens, they go and get their guns and return to cause madness," Gajadhar said. He said it was time for proper legislation to be put in place so that bars cannot stay open after 2 am. He also said that there are inadequate security officers at some bars, adding that law-abiding citizens must exercise wisdom when choosing liming spots.

Since the shooting, police have been sourcing video footage from surrounding cameras and interviewing several witnesses. Police were unable to determine the motive for the shooting. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.

Investigations are continuing.

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