State witness in T&T killed hours before court appearance

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(Trinidad Guardian) State witness Samuel Rampersad was supposed to attend court yesterday, but hours before this appearance three armed men stormed his home and shot him dead in front of his family.

Rampersad, 44, a taxi driver, lived with his family at Coconut Drive, Green Acres, San Fernando, near the banks of the Cipero River. He was accustomed to working the grave yard shift and was the victim of a kidnapping and robbery in December 2012.

Samuel Rampersad

Police said around 4 am while the family was asleep, the gunmen kicked open the door and entered the wooden house. Demanding to know the whereabouts of Rampersad, who drove a silver Nissan B-15, the assailants entered the room where he and his family were asleep. Upon recognising him, they fired three shots, which struck him in the upper body, splattering blood on the walls and bed of the house.

A relative, who requested anonymity, said before going into the Rampersad’s residence, the assailants, who wore bandannas over their faces, mistakenly kicked down the front door of a house next door looking for him.

“When they didn’t find him there they came over here. I was sleeping in the living room when I heard the commotion. I thought it was Rampersad coming home after working a late shift. Then I saw the glare and a man with a gun was standing over me,” the witness recalled.

He said one of the men again asked for the driver of the B-15 and when he realised the relative was in a confused state, he walked into the bedroom where Rampersad slept.

“I was so afraid I could not move. They killed him and then the men ran out of the house. They did not hurt anybody else,” he added.

Describing Samuel as a hardworking and respectable man, the relative said for over 28 years Rampersad had worked as a taxi driver. He said Rampersad often did private hired jobs for oil workers from companies like Halliburton.

“He would take workers from Halliburton to Guayaguayare. He always had jobs and he used to come home all hours of the morning,” the relative said.

The killing left residents shaken and they are now calling on police to boost patrols in the residential community.

Police said Rampersad was kidnapped in 2012 by three men shortly after they robbed and beat a family from Green Acres. In a bid to escape, they kidnapped Rampersad, who later turned a State witness. Police yesterday detained three suspects in connection with his murder.

District Medical Officer Dr Rajkumar viewed the body yesterday and ordered it removed to the Forensic Science Centre where an autopsy will be done today (Thursday).

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