THERE was a variety of responses to our question of the day yesterday, as to the level of fear of citizens in the current environment.
Shoppers in Port of Spain and San Fernando were asked whether or not they felt safe and secure while being on the streets for this Christmas season.
Do I feel safe? No, one lady in Port of Spain said flatly.
Out of five respondents, one man said he was not fearful but added, nevertheless, he would only use his bank card.
Among those polled in San Fernando, one woman said she does not shop on the streets because of the parking problems.
One man said he had already finished his shopping, a second said he was “a man of the streets” and so he feared nothing, a third said he had not as yet encountered any crime and the other respondent said there were “more people trying to make an honest day’s work on the streets”.
This apparently provided for him a sense of safety and security of its own.
But last Saturday’s deadly, brazen shooting in downtown Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, has brought a hitherto unthinkable new dimension to the wanton lawlessness, fuelled by the pervasive availability of guns in criminal hands.
Sparing absolutely no thought for the innocent, unconcerned and unconnected, a gunman ostensibly in pursuit of someone known to him walked into a group of persons and simply began firing at his target.
It was just before 7 p.m. and the area, in what is now officially known as Chinatown, was teeming with shoppers.
A young hairdresser, a mother of three children, was enjoying the evening’s approach on what was her 40th birthday.
She didn’t survive the gunman’s cold-blooded, indiscriminate action.
Neither did a police sergeant who was in possession of his issued sidearm but whose back was turned to the gunman’s approach and was therefore hit from behind.
Just one of the bits of cruel irony in this latest tragedy is that the intended target lives to tell his own story.
Bullets meant for him randomly claimed two other lives.
Just the previous day in the parliament, the Minister of National Security was commenting on what he saw as the “frightening” nature of the escalating murder rate, now closing in on 500.
In the mad scramble for safety during Saturday evening’s melee, our report captured the trauma experienced by a three-year-old boy.
He was reported as having frozen on the spot as the reckless shooting sent adults scampering. This child will need psychological intervention in order to move on from here.
So too will the elderly lady described as having difficulty walking but who “got up and walked, without use of her cane”.
Public safety and security are being more imperilled with each passing day even with what is taken as the best efforts of the police under the aggressive actions of the Police Commissioner.
The downward spiral continues, affecting thousands more than just those who happen to witness actions of the sort captured here.