PSV operators are mourning the loss of a driver who was fatally shot on Tuesday night near his St. Philip home. And they say, his unfortunate death is a wake up call for authorities to put security measures in place to protect them while they ply their trade.
Several operators said that the death of 54-year-old Ralston Philip Agard of Sandy Hill, St Philip, was an indication that the safety of persons involved in the sector was under threat.
The 34th homicide for the year was an alleged attempted robbery, which took place close to Agard’s home where his 90-year-old mother, whom he took care of, awaited his arrival.
According to police, Agard parked his vehicle outside his home when an explosion was heard. He called for assistance and a family member rushed to his aid.
Barbados TODAY visited his home, but family members declined to speak this morning.
However, at the Constitution Road, St Michael, River Terminal, this evening, some of the victim’s colleagues and friends said they were struggling to get through the day as they grieve the death of “a real cool guy”.
They made a call for all relevant authorities to put measures in place to protect them and their passengers from security risks before someone else is killed.
“A million drivers out here got bullets in them and nothing ain’t coming out of that. A driver get shoot recently and got bullets in he neck and nothing ain’t coming out of that. But as drivers come out here with a sword to protect themselves wunna want to lock we up in prison,” an angry driver voiced loudly.
“We ain’t to arm ourselves? We are getting robbed on a daily basis. We getting shoot on a daily basis and nobody ain’t helping we. When you dead nobody ain’t getting hold for these crimes.
“For the longest time we have been getting robbed and we fed up of it. Tell me if you think that a man who got children to support and a old mother to take care of should be dead because somebody want money them ain’t work hard for,” the disturbed driver who did not give his name added.
Operators gathered in small groups reflecting on Agard’s life, the incident, and the security risks to which they were exposed.
One of Agard’s childhood friends, Clifton Gooding, said he could not help but to think “it could have been me”.
“I feel sorry because he is my friend and we don’t live so far from one another. We were school friends and workmates. He was driving longer than me because he was out here for a while because he started from young.
“When I heard he dead I was shocked and asked if he was fighting, but then I heard it was a robbery and I felt badly about it. Look, all the drivers have to be careful at this time how things happening. We don’t know who is next, and we got to hope for the best for ourselves,”Gooding said.
Meanwhile, driver John St Hill said he was saddened that a man was snatched from his loved ones in such a cruel way.
He said he knew that Agard worked hard and long hours to earn an honest dollar to support his family.
“He got a daughter that should be going in second form at secondary school. She needs her father,” St Hill said.
He believes ZR operators should be allowed to protect themselves from dangerous individuals.
“If we protect ourselves police would say you should come to us first. But we should be able to protect ourselves because everybody know you dealing with money and fellas out there see easy money. We work hard driving up and down on the roads everyday,” St Hill said.
A vendor in the area lamented that she was thrown into a state of shock when she heard that Agard was killed. She explained that just yesterday she promised Agard to prepare some breadfruit cou cou he had requested.
“Up to yesterday he make noise and tell me I got to bring breadfruit cou cou today if not he ain’t buying no food. I went last night, all down Carlton looking for breadfruit. I had to go and beg a man down the road early this morning for breadfruit to cook for he. Everyday he would come here and buy food. I almost faint when I come here and hear that news this morning. He was a very nice man. He was a very good man. That body that do it want a lethal injection. Nobody can’t believe that he gone,” the vendor said.
Police are appealing to anyone with knowledge or information related to the incident to contact the District ‘C’ Police Station at 416-8200/416-8201; Police Emergency at 211 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-8477.