PORT OF SPAIN –– Two of three men who accosted Father Clyde Harvey on Monday morning were sent to kidnap and murder him, the priest told the media yesterday.
Speaking the St Benedict’s Monastery where he was attending the final session of a two-day seminar, Harvey said the men claimed they were sent to kidnap him and then kill him.
However, rather than carrying out the job, they called their employer who showed up at the St Martin de Porres Church in Gonzales and he too did not possess the courage to go through with his plan.
Harvey said despite this, he wished to meet with the men to find out who put them up to it and why.
He said the initial two bandits who tied him up, robbed and threatened to kill him early Monday morning were “stupid victims” he would want to meet and chat with to determine why they did what they did.
He said the labelling of the culprits as evil was “short-sighted and stupid”, adding that the real crime wasn’t what happened to him, as this happens to many of the citizens, but the motive behind it.
Harvey, who was robbed of a cell phone, watch, cash and some other items just before 6 a.m. Monday, said he wants the court and legal system to run its course but does not believe the incarceration of the men will be the end of the matter, since they will just be “going to school to get a secondary education in crime”.
He recalled that at first, two men approached him, robbed and ransacked his home and after not getting the kind of money they expected, they said they were sent to kidnap and kill him.
Fr Harvey said he jokingly asked if he was worth so little when they asked him if the Archdiocese was willing to pay $50,000 for his release. He said after they were convinced he had no money, they used his stolen cellphone to contact a third man after telling Harvey if their cohort wanted the priest dead he would have to come do it himself.
Five minutes later, a third man arrived. Harvey said while the third man was completely masked the others had bandanas on their faces and wore caps.
“After I opened the safe and they saw the cheques, one of them said ‘All these cheques, you must have money, allyuh pastors have money, allyuh thiefing black people money’. When I heard him say pastor I thought they were after the pastor and not the priest but they don’t know the difference between the two,” Harvey said.
Harvey said the incident was traumatic but noted he had been in a situation where a gun was placed to his head before.
“In a sense I can’t blame them. Some have identified the men as two wicked young men. They are not wicked, these are victims of our society,” he said.
“They stupid and I hope they are listening to me at this point. They don’t know basic things, they didn’t know my name so I have questions about where they are from. They couldn’t tell the difference between a priest and a pastor and we have a generation like that. They are wild and money is their God. And we have to be aware is not only those two little boys that have money as their God.”
Asked whether he forgave the culprits, he said: “It is not about forgiving. I don’t see them as guilty, I see them as misguided, very misguided. They must take responsibility for their actions, but I don’t think they have had anybody in their lives who has brought them through the process of taking responsibility for their lives.”
He added: “I felt a deep sense of sadness when I saw the papers and saw Father Harvey robbed. I know people who have been robbed and if there was four lines in the papers it was plenty. Don’t personalise it, because by the end of next week nothing will happen and I will be frustrated. At the end of the day two little boys have become the focus of national attention when they are victims.”
Harvey confirmed he returned to the church compound and slept there Monday night. He added that when he returned there were villagers ready to hunt and capture the culprits, but he advised them to work with the police. The residents, he said, assured him no harm would come to the men if they were caught.
The three men responsible for Monday morning’s attack on Father Harvey remained on the run up to last night, police said.
Reports that three men had been caught in connection with the case turned out to be false.