The murder toll has reached a horrific 501 with the killing of three men between Friday night and yesterday.
The comparative for the same period last year was 345.
The deceased are two brothers—18-year-old Nirmal Ramberram and 28-year-old Elvis Hernandez, both from Prescott Lane, Tunapuna—as well as 29-year-old Roger Charles.
Police said that around 10.30 a.m. yesterday, the two brothers were liming near the Tunapuna Cemetery with another friend when they were confronted by a group of men who shot them before fleeing the scene.
Henandez and Ramberram were both shot several times and died on the scene.
The third victim, who was shot in the left foot, was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope where he was treated and remains a patient.
When the Sunday Express visited the community yesterday, residents of the area said the two brothers were hard-working individuals, and they were surprised to learn of the killings.
“The two of them are very hard workers. They always hustling and trying to make an honest dollar. The most anyone can say about them is that Nirmal mouth hot. He would like to play bad-john once in a while but he never followed through with anything. He was hot air mostly. All talk. So this right here is hurting us real bad.
“The only thing I can tell you is that the two of them were given a job to clean in the cemetery and when they went, they had a disagreement with people who tell them they can’t clean it because other people accustomed doing the job.
“Some words were thrown at each other, but that was it. I don’t know if that is directly leading to this, but literally about two days later and these men get killed? It’s a bit suspicious if you ask me,” said a resident of the area who gave her name as Rachel Cooper.
Hours earlier, Charles was fatally shot outside of the home of a friend in Chaguanas on Friday night.
Charles, of Enterprise Street, was seen liming along the roadway of Crown Trace in Enterprise around 7.30 p.m. when he was approached by a man. The two had a conversation, during which the man pulled out a gun, shot Charles once in the head, then fled the scene on foot.
The police were notified and a team of officers led by Insp Jones, Sgt Ramroop and PC Ramsoobhag, among others, responded.
Police were told that Charles was known in the community for selling drugs, and it is suspected his killing would have been linked to this.
One spent 9mm shell was found on the scene.
How high will it go?
In 2008, this country recorded 550 murders, the highest ever. The second-highest number of murders, to date, was recorded in 2019 with 539 murders.
This year could end with 585 murders, the highest number of reported murders in the history of Trinidad and Tobago. This forecast was based on trend analysis and computer model projections by Dr Randy Seepersad, based on statistics acquired from the TTPS Crime and Problem Analysis Branch (CAPA) for 1990 to 2019 to predict values up to 2030.
Seepersad, co-ordinator of the Criminology Unit at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), told the Sunday Express in an interview earlier this month that as the year is winding down, the forecasts appear to be holding true.
The forecast is that 2022 could end with 585 murders if immediate action is not taken.
The upper limits of this year’s forecast go as high as 763 deaths, with the lower limits being 407 deaths.
“Even as the year winds down, the numbers appear to be holding true to the data, within the acceptable margins. We’ve already crossed the lower limit. And for now, all that is left is to see how far it goes. The projections still stand, and I don’t see anything which will cause us to deviate from it as yet,” Seepersad said.
Speaking with the Sunday Express yesterday, criminologist Darius Figuera said he too believed this year could see the highest number of murders on record.
“What we have is a series of unfortunate events taking place. Transnational crime has seen an upswing in a period where the corridor for illegal arms trade between the United States (of America) and the Caribbean has been reopened. And this is something that is affecting the entire Caribbean region.
“We will feel it worse in Trinidad and Tobago because we live here, but when you look at the entire region, countries are seeing increased crimes via the use of firearms and increased murders all because this one corridor has reopened, along with the increase in transnational crimes.
“On top of this, coming out of the pandemic and in a world where the cost of living appears to be continuously on the rise, you have the perfect tinder on which to strike a match for deviant activity. Persons are being laid off, people are suffering, and they feel like crime is the only real way to survive. So all of this is happening, to the effect that even as a criminologist, it is difficult to see what will be happening this year.
“This year is almost an anomaly because we have the characteristics of two different models in play. So it becomes difficult to give a reasonable average of how high this murder toll will go, or how long this period of anomalous activities will last.
“Personally, I can see this year going as high as 550, or even up to 600 murders, when compared to other reports, especially with the type of weaponry that criminal elements are utilising right now. I am hoping, of course, that it remains at lower tiers. But given all these things that have happened, one can see why this year may indeed be shaping up to be the bloodiest one in our nation to date,” Figuera said.