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Two men shot by police in Layou during Carnival whistle stop

Two men shot by police in Layou during Carnival whistle stop

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Blood splattered on the concrete outside the Layou Police Station last Saturday provided chilling evidence that something had gone very wrong, as the Leeward leg of the carnival caravan passed through that town.{{more}}

Witnesses claim that during the carnival truck’s passage through Layou, two men, residents of the Paul’s Avenue area of Kingstown, were spotted in the crowd by police and promptly arrested.

According to an eyewitness, when one male tried to find out the reason for the arrest, he was shot in the leg by a police officer.

Another individual was shot, but it is unclear how or why this happened.

A police report yesterday identified the men who were shot as Odinga Williams and John Chandler, both 23 years old. The report said the men sustained gunshot injuries to the right thigh and chin respectively and are patients at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

One eyewitness, who was standing approximately three feet from one of the shootings, told SEARCHLIGHT what was observed.

“What he did to the first guy, he hit him in his face with his gun and then when he fell to the floor, he kicked him until he was spitting blood,” he said.

The eyewitness, who wishes to remain anonymous, is of the belief that the shooting was unnecessary and extremely dangerous, given the fact that there were so many persons around, including children.

“He shot him so careless in front of everybody. Somebody else could have easily got hurt…the person in front of me got hit with the shell and it burned her hand”.

Additionally, the witness said that persons in the crowd got upset and started throwing rocks and bottles, because of what they perceived as a “boastful” attitude on the part of the police officer involved, as he exited the Layou police station after the shooting.

According to the eyewitness, the police officer made several comments, including “Yeah is me. Is I who shoot him”.

The release from the police said that Williams and Chandler and one Ytango Miller of Layou were “among a number of persons who allegedly threw stones and bottles at the Police Station in Layou and attacked members of the Station and Rapid Response Unit (RRU), with Williams reportedly attempting to grab one of the officers’ firearm.

“The attack on the police station and Police Officers occurred following the arrest of two persons who were conducting themselves in a disorderly manner in the crowd, which was participating in the Whistle Stop as part of activities marking the launch of carnival activities,” the release said.

When SEARCHLIGHT arrived on the scene, the carnival caravan had already left and the injured persons had been taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

Throngs of people lined the waterfront and a concentration of persons was in front of the police station, hurling insulting remarks at the police, who stood outside, looking on.

One person must have struck a sensitive chord, because a member of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) entered the crowd, with his rifle at ready.

As the crowd scattered for fear of another bullet being fired, other RRU officers followed their colleague into the crowd and then made their way back to the station.

A Layou resident, who is normally referred to as “Happy”, was also allegedly beaten on Saturday.

“They carried him inside and beat him,” the witness said. “Right by the window where everybody can see, as if threatening people…”

SEARCHLIGHT did not see Happy being beaten, but heard howls coming from inside the police station.

The crowd was evidently emotional, with some people crying, others verbally expressing anger, while others just stood observing.

Members of the Special Services Unit (SSU) arrived on scene and formed a line in front of the police station, hoping to restrain the angry mob of people.

“If the extra police didn’t come, I think it would have escalated into a riot and that one police guy would have gotten the worst of it” one bystander said.

As the sun set in a distance, the two men who were arrested for disorderly conduct were escorted out of the police station and placed on the back of blue pick-up trucks. Happy was also escorted onto a pick-up truck. He sported a dishevelled look, as blood stained his face and yellow and grey striped shirt.

Persons from the crowd cried out to the police “Oh lard. Alyo wicked! Alyo wrong!” as the trucks drove off in the direction of Kingstown.

“I really hope the police don’t somehow sweep this under the rug, because this is really serious,” someone said.

Other individuals who were arrested during the commotion were released soon after.

Police say investigations are continuing into the incident.

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