Because she stood up to gangs in her community and refused to leave despite several threats, a grandmother of eight was brutally killed yesterday morning while standing in her yard on St Paul Street, Port of Spain—just a stone’s throw away from the Besson Street Police Station.
According to police reports, around 8.30 a.m. yesterday, Marlene Grant was walking down the steps to her two-storey home when, as she reached the last step, she was accosted by two masked men armed with handguns.
On seeing her assailants, Grant attempted to run away, however, the two men opened fire on the 57-year-old woman, hitting her eight times in the process. The woman fell to the ground and one of her attackers walked over to her and shot her two more times in the head.
The two assailants then fled the scene on foot.
Concerned residents, on hearing the noise, contacted the police and emergency health services and Grant was rushed to the Port of Spain General Hospital.
However, despite the best efforts of the attending doctors, she succumbed to her injuries during treatment.
A party of officers from the Besson Street Police Station, the Homicide Bureau of Investigations, the Port of Spain (PoS) Task Force, the PoS CID, and the Inter Agency Task Force, including ASP Smith, Sgt Lynch, and Cpl Beckles responded.
Crime Scene Investigators also reportedly recovered 16 spent 9mm shells from the scene.
Grant’s body was taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James, where an autopsy was performed by forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov.
Alexandrov, in speaking to family members and reporters after completing the autopsy, explained that while Grant’s killers may have intended to “execute her” by shooting her twice in the head, those were not the injuries which led to her death.
“Her attackers would have shot her eight times prior to her collapsing and as she was lying on the ground, with the left side of the head facing upwards, they shot her twice more at close range. They attempted to execute her. But these were not the shots which claimed her life. She was shot on the left of the nostril, and the bullets travelled through the facial part of the skull and did not damage her brain. These wounds were not fatal,” Alexandrov explained.
From his findings, the forensic pathologist said that Grant would have been facing her attackers when the shooting began.
Alexandrov explained: “As she saw the guns pointed towards her, she attempted to duck down to remove her upper torso from the line of fire. At this moment, she was hit to the top of left shoulder, with this bullet exiting on the back.
“Realizing her situation, she attempted to turn around and try to run away, with her torso still bent, and it was at this moment that she was shot seven more times. She sustained two wounds on the back, one of which perforated her left kidney, left lobe of her liver and entered the heart.
“This was the injury which led to her death. She also sustained five gunshot wounds to both legs, four of which were to the left leg.”
After hearing this, relatives were appalled to learn that Grant’s attackers were “bent on killing her at any means”.
“She never did anybody anything. She was a warm and loving woman. The most anyone can say is that she used to tell them bad boys and gang men off, telling them to change their lives and she not condoning any ‘badman ting’ near her. But like they didn’t like that, and this is not the first time they made an attempt on her life. About two months ago, they try to scare her off and have her move out when they almost burn down her apartment, but she say she wasn’t budging. She stood up to them and wasn’t condoning anything near her. That’s the only reason I can think of as to why anyone would want her dead so badly,” explained a female relative.
Grant’s sister, Patricia James, said she was heartbroken by the incident and called on the police to find the persons responsible for this heinous crime.
“She was a mother of six, a grandmother of eight. She had nothing but love in her heart. Let me tell you that. She loved her grandchildren and children more than life itself and they will all miss her greatly and she will be greatly missed. She never did anything to deserve that and I hope the police find those responsible,” James said.
However, James also revealed that she was the grandmother of Tecia Henry, and she said the police “never found” the men responsible for her granddaughter’s death, and as such she did not have much faith that investigators would find the men responsible for her sister’s killing.
“I hope I am wrong. But five years have passed since Tecia died, and the police never hold anyone officially for my granddaughter’s death. And now they gone and kill my sister, so I’m not expecting anything different really,” James said.
Ten-year-old Tecia, of John John, Laventille, was found strangled beneath a neighbour’s house on June 17, 2009, four days after she disappeared while running an errand for her mother.
Her killing caused near riots with residents at John John accusing those of neighbouring Block Eight of knowing who had committed the heinous crime. The murder toll for the year now stands at 310, according to an Express tally. The comparable figure for the period last year is 293. (Trinidad Express)