It just doesn’t make sense on a lot of levels, and from various angles, this shooting of a soldier by a police officer at a birthday party, or get-together, in Point Fortin last Friday.
How many people were at this get together, and were those numbers in keeping with the Covid-19 guidelines set down by the authorities, and monitored by the police, as we have been assured is the case?
The reporting on this affair does not establish this thus far, but what appears reasonable to guess is that there was enough merry-making taking place for someone to have said something to someone else, enough to have led to a request from a third party for persons to be asked to leave the premises.
There have already been differing versions of exactly what transpired—both as to what led to the incident itself, and then the details thus far as to how the soldier was fatally shot.
There is also a dispute, contained in the reporting, as to whether or not the soldier in question was authorised to have been carrying a service revolver.
This event was taking place at his parents’ home, and it was to celebrate the birthday of his son, who is a police officer. That much is clear.
Members of the protective services are seen, through the eyes of many others in the society who classify as ordinary people, to be exemplars. Residents in their home communities usually look up to such figures. This often is except where there is at least probably cause otherwise.
A man is a member of the Defence Force, and son is a police officer, celebrating his birthday. They, one would think, ordinarily speaking, are people who would be expected to do what is right, and what is uplifting in the eyes of others. Those at the get-together would have been the friends of the soldier’s police officer son, the birthday boy. Police officers and soldiers were said to have made up the bulk of those gathered.
One of those at his birthday lime, a police officer as himself, ultimately his guest, is now a suspect in the shooting death of his father.
Exactly what state of mind he will be in all now ought to be a matter of deep concern. His grandparents, the mother and father of his now-slain father, must also be in a state of shock and depression. This incident took place on their premises.
How is it that such an incident could have taken place, among friends and associates, the majority of whom have been reported as uniformed persons, in these two branches of the country’ major national security services?
One follow-up story from the original reports said relatives of the slain soldier have called for an investigation into the matter by the Police Complaints Authority. But this is a foregone conclusion. It involves the action of an armed police officer, not in the exercise of his duty, which makes it even more problematic than would ordinarily have been, were he to have acted in this way in the course of being on duty.
Two families in the same community, with children in respectable positions and presumably seen by others in their community as upstanding and role models, now face the prospect of becoming estranged from each other.
What could have been the state of affairs with the incident in question to have led to the drawing of weapons to settle the dispute is just one of those questions on the lips of some of us reading the details.
On another level, the depths to which people in the community have now been plunged into mourning and self-questioning are exemplified by this response. Both the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Point Fortin have been pictured either arriving at, or leaving, the home where the soldier was killed.
We don’t know what state the relatives of the police officer who pulled the trigger have been in since he submitted to questioning by investigators.
How many of those who were at the event and have details as to what exactly took place will be willing to go forward and provide statements in this investigation is another major question.
Big money will be placed on the reality that many of them will not volunteer, and will have to be threatened or at least coerced into doing so. More than likely they will face the wrath of those on the opposite side of the information they will present. Here is a classic case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. This will lead to more resentment and greater disunity among groups of people who started in this celebration as friends and well-wishers.
This is a community tragedy that may hereinafter destroy lives and relations. It qualifies as one for counselling and mediation, as a matter of course.
—Andy Johnson is
a veteran journalist