TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: SCRATCH BOMB SCARE - EntornoInteligente / News day / According to reports John, who jogs regularly around Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain during the early hours of the morning, invited her sister Jacqueline, who is visiting from the United States, to accompany her on a brisk jog at about 4 am.

While the two sisters were jogging in the vicinity of the United States Embassy, on Marli Street, a black heavily tinted SUV with two occupants were heard shouting “look them, look them, shoot”.

Explosions were heard which John assumed to be gunshots.

A confused John and her sister wasted no time in making a quick dash towards the trees in the Savannah where they hid while the black SUV travelled south around the Savannah and made a circuit and returned and again shouted, “shoot shoot”.

By that time, John and her sister decided to cross the roadway under the cover of darkness and ran across to Marli Street where they began pulling the gate to the American Embassy. But when no one responded they ran further up the roadway on Marli Street and jumped two walls while calling out to residents with the hope that someone would assist them.

While climbing the two walls, which had barbed wire, John and her sister suffered cuts and bruises and their clothes were torn. After climbing the second wall they ended up on a compound occupied by Venezuelans. John and her sister tried speaking with the Venezuelans but they continued to look from their windows but did not attempt to render any assistance.

Dazed and bleeding from multiple cuts, John realised she was on Woodford Street and then realising that she was further exposed to danger used her cellphone to contact E999. Within minutes officers responded and took John and her sister to the St Clair Police Station.

While at the station the two women were allowed to compose themselves and were interviewed. Officers then took John and her sister back to the crime scene where the area was cordoned off.

John’s attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who was contacted by John, was also at the scene while officers marked off certain spots in the Savannah.

They also spoke with security guards at the American Embassy and an official of the Embassy has promised to provide surveillance camera footage to assist the police in their investigation.

Sunday Newsday understands when other joggers were alerted to the explosions they began scampering in all directions. When police returned to the crime scene yesterday some of the joggers were also interviewed and they expressed shock and outrage over the incident. Police officers later took John and her sister to their Cascade home where they were attempting to return to normalcy yesterday.

Contacted by Sunday Newsday, John confirmed the incident saying she was extremely traumatised.

“When I heard the men shouting ‘look them, look them, shoot’ I immediately decided to take the necessary actions to preserve my life and were it not for my athletic skills I may not be alive today. Right now I am bleeding, traumatised. I never expected this attack because I am a law-abiding citizen. I never troubled anyone, so why am I being targeted?” A clearly emotional John said the pain she endured while climbing the walls, being cut by barbed wire, was minuscule compared to what she is feeling right now. She however thanked the police for their swift response saying all the officers were professional and treated her with courtesy and care. “Trinidad and Tobago has one of the best police service in the world and people need to recognise this,” she said.

Asked by Sunday Newsday if she will be taking necessary security precautions, John said all she wanted to do was to spend a quiet Christmas with her family.

Sunday Newsday understands that in July, John received a telephone call by someone who threatened her life and indicated if she did not drop legal action taken against the HDC over her dismissal her life will be taken away. John, together with Ramdeen, reported the matter to officers of the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit and sources revealed that while making the report John was informed by officers they were in receipt of information that persons were plotting to kill her.

She was given key information and told to take the necessary precautions.

Her attorney also wrote to the registrar of the Port-of-Spain High Court asking that John’s matter be expedited on the basis of the threat to her life.

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams told Sunday Newsday he was informed scratch bombs were thrown at John and her sister adding all aspects of the investigation being pursued.

“But on the face of it that (scratch bombs) is what has been determined,” he said.

Police also informed Sunday Newsday they had secured footage from CCTV the streets and the American Embassy and they were searching for the two men in the SUV.

When contacted about this new information, John said the police told her they have evidence that it was persons throwing scratch bombs. She added she feels relieved but said the whole episode has left her shaken up and badly bruised.

Earlier this month, Minister of Public Administration Maxie Cuffie launched a national campaign to stop the sale and use of scratch bombs and illegal fireworks in Trinidad and Tobago themed “Have fun without having a blast”.

The campaign was inspired by Talparo grandmother, Sally-Ann Cuffy, who was severely injured and is missing a thumb because of a scratch bomb. During Divali observances the grandmother was driving her car when a scratch bomb was thrown through her window and, in order to save her grandchild, she grabbed the device that blew up in her hand.


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