(Trinidad Guardian) Residents of El Carmen, St Helena said they risked their lives to chase an armed bandit after police officers froze in apparent fear after being shot at.
According to the residents, who spoke with the T&T Guardian hours after two men robbed K&G minimart in the usually quiet village shortly after 10 am, the bandits were startled by a police patrol parked nearby as they bolted from the scene.
Eyewitnesses said one of the bandits who emerged from the shop first looked in the direction of the police and fired at the two officers before running away.
Residents said the owner of the minimart, Gita Harnarain, screamed at the officers for help.
The two officers, they said, were “frozen stiff, stiff, stiff” prompting the villagers into action.
It was only then that one of the two officers joined the chase, they said.
Moments later the second armed bandit emerged from the shop and began shooting at the villagers who were chasing his accomplice.
He also shot at the police officer who was seated in the driver’s seat of the police vehicle before “jogging away”, eyewitnesses said.
Villagers said the police officer in the vehicle ducked for cover as the gunman pointed the weapon at him and narrowly escaped injury.
Residents said soon after other the police vehicles joined the search of the fleeing bandits. One of them was later cornered in a dead-end street and killed by officers of the Central Division Task Force during a shootout, police said.
Officers said was a member of a criminal gang in Enterprise, Chaguanas.
The shootout took place a short distance from the minimart at a bushy area at Santa Monica, just before noon. Police said they have the identity of the second bandit and assured that an arrest is imminent.
Speaking with Guardian Media, Harnarain, 53, said she was at her store when one gunman came in, shoved her to ground, gave her a bag and ordered that she hand over everything.
The woman, who says she has been operating the shop for the past eight years, said she placed cash, cigarettes and cellphones in the bag.
The other bandit went to the back of the business where she lives and tied up her husband, son and a female worker. That bandit, she said, told her family that they were going to kidnap her son and the female employee and called for their getaway driver to come closer.
“I thought I was going and dead. I put everything in the bag and then I run out the shop and went by the neighbour and called the police. I don’t know what else I could have done, they know the place have cameras. What more I could do? What I want to know is how come they getting guns but we not getting any?” Harnarain asked.
She said after the incident, which took place around 10.15 am, she went back in her store and was shaking in fear. Her business remained closed for the rest of the day and she planned to keep it shut for a few days.
“I have to prepare for them. We have to fight back. Is time to attack. They don’t know we work hard for we money. The Government have to do something about this crime,” Harnarain said.
She said the bandits came to the scene in a Nissan B-15 driven by another man who fled on seeing the police jeep approaching.