TRINIDAD – Beetham teen killed in ‘shootout with cops’

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PORT OF SPAIN – Senior police officers in the Port of Spain Division have launched an investigation into a shooting incident involving police officers at Hell Yard, Beetham Gardens yesterday which left a teenager dead.

A 19 year old man who was shot was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

He was identified as Akiel Thomas, of Phase Five, Beetham. Police claimed he was shot during an exchange of gunfire around 6.30 a.m.

Akiel Thomas (inset) was killed in a shootout with police officers yesterday.

This incident triggered scores of residents to protest in anger and some attempted to block the roads—the Eastern Main Road, the Priority Bus Route and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Beetham.

Their actions were short-lived after vanloads of heavily-armed police officers arrived on the scene.

According to a police report, officers of the Port-of-Spain Division were conducting exercises in the community when they were confronted by a group of people at Hell Yard.

One of the men, police said, pulled out a firearm and opened fire on the police.

The police returned fire shooting Thomas in the chest. The other men, police said, ran off. Police said they recovered a firearm on the scene.

Police said Thomas was known to them and was believed to be involved in a gang.

Guardian Media was told that he acted as a “lookout” to monitor who was attempting to enter the area.

A relative denied the police claims saying that Thomas was no gang member.

“He was a girl’s man and lime out late almost every day. He probably limed late last night (Tuesday) and slept away on the chair outside.

“He was sleeping on the chair and the police come up and shoot him just so. There was no shootout. He had no gun,” the relative, who refused to give his name, said.

The T&T Police Service’s public relations officer, assistant superintendent Michael Jackman said police officers have in place several plans to deal with the Beetham residents should they “act up.”

“The police would respond accordingly should anything take place. The head of the Port-of-Spain Division is well on top of the matter and the situation there is clearly being monitored,” he said. The flow of traffic, up to press time, was normal along the PBR, main road and highway.

There was heightened police presence during peak afternoon traffic and the patrols are expected to continue over the next few days, police said.

The latest police killing incident has been recorded as the 19th for the year so far.

Investigations are continuing.

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