Trinidad and Tobago
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TTUTA on shooting at primary school: Government must get a handle on crime

Yvonne Webb Seereeram Memorial Vedic School, Chaguanas where a man was shot and wounded after he attempted to rob a parent on Tuesday. - Photo by Lincoln Holder
Seereeram Memorial Vedic School, Chaguanas where a man was shot and wounded after he attempted to rob a parent on Tuesday. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

A SHOOTING incident involving an armed intruder and a parent took place on Tuesday night inside the Seereeram Memorial Vedic Primary School in Chaguanas – hours before the SEA exam was held at the school.

While video images which were shared online showed a trail of blood inside the school, after the incident, the school opened as normal on Wednesday and more than 20 Standard 5 students were allowed in to sit the exam.

However, president of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Martin Lum Kin said the incident shows that Government must look at the bigger picture and get a proper handle on crime.

“It is quite unfortunate that someone was injured and that person would have breached the school’s security to carry out an alleged robbery.

“We are not blind to the fact that there is crime everywhere, and people are perpetrating acts of crime even at schools which are supposed to be safe havens, either during school time or after hours,” Lum Kin said.

He said he was left aghast, “at the disrespect for institutions such as schools or places of worship which provide support for communities and have a hand in nation-building.”

“In the end it worked out well and thank God the children were able to write the exam in a relatively calm and safe way,” he added.

Lum Kin applauded the decision not to inform parents and students about the incident prior to the examination. “Thank God for that, because even though it may not have been within sight, an incident of such nature would have had an unsettling effect.

“Invigilators and support staff may have wondered whether it was safe to go there, if there was going to be any reprisal arising out of that incident, if the perpetrator was a member of a gang which would be looking to avenge him.”

Parents who spoke to the Newsday before and after the exams said they were unaware of the incident and were glad neither they nor their children were told, as this would have caused additional anxiety.

Efforts to reach school principal Ranu Maharaj for a comment proved futile. The school has a population of 150 students.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly also did not answer calls, but Lum Kin confirmed police reports that around 9 pm on Tuesday, a man armed with a gun entered the compound and held up members of the PTA and others parents who were installing an air condition unit in one of the classrooms.

A parent, who owns a licensed firearm, struggled with the bandit who was shot.

The man attempted to flee but collapsed on the roadway. Police were alerted and took the suspect to hospital where he remains warded under police guard.