Eighteen-year-old Peter Richard, a Form Six student of the newly named Keshorn Walcott Composite School, was chopped in the neck, by another player who had to flee to safety in the Toco Police Station when villagers chased after him following the attack.
Richard died at the Toco Health Centre and his killing has left the fishing village in east Trinidad in mourning, barely a month after villagers, and the country, celebrated the heroic victory of another Toco son, Keshorn Walcott, who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics on August 11.
For his Olympic success, Toco Composite School, which Walcott attended, has been renamed after the javelin champion.
The school has a proud tradition in sports, which Richard seemed set to follow in as a footballer. He and the school’s team had a game scheduled for yesterday on their home ground at Galera Road, Toco against El Dorado East Secondary School, in the east zone round of the 2012 Secondary Schools Football League.
However, the game was called off as Richard’s teammates were too grief-stricken to play on without him.
In what some say was a practice match, Richard, several schoolmates and friends from the village decided to play a game at the Toco Recreation Ground, at about 4 pm on Tuesday.
A scuffle broke out among two players over a bad tackle and Richard tried to stop the fight, but he was accused of “playing bad” by one of the players, a 23-year-old man, who promised to “deal with him”, according to eyewitnesses.
Tempers cooled a bit and the match played on ending in a one-all draw. All seemed to be well as the players stayed behind on the field for a while chatting before heading to their homes at about 7.30 pm. Half an hour after, as Richard and a group of friends were walking along Galera Road, the 23-year-old man who was involved in the fight during the game approached them and again accused Richard of being a “big badjohn”.
He and Richard began to argue, and the others urged them to stop.
“‘Boys that is small thing, forget what happened. Remember we have to play a match against El Dorado East and we have to be in a good frame of mind to win’,” is what they were told, according to Israel Modeste, one of Richard’s friends. By this time, they had arrived at Palm Junction, where most of the group left, when the two stopped arguing.
Again, all seemed well as Richard and the suspect continued to walk together. However, as they arrived at his house, the suspect ran inside, returning with a cutlass and, once more, turned on Richard, telling him “you feel you bad”, police said based on an eyewitness account.
Richard is reported to have said, “I ’ent ’fraid you boy”, however the suspect fired a chop at the teenager striking him to the left side of his neck.
Richard held his neck and called for a friend, known as Moses, who lived nearby to help him.
“‘Get a towel for me so I can stop the blood from flowing’,” is what Richard said, Moses told Newsday yesterday. Moses said he did not think Richard would die, saying his friend was a fighter.
The uproar alerted other villagers who rushed from their homes to help, while the police, led by Insp Beverley Paul, arrived soon after and took Richard to the Toco Health Centre where he succumbed to the chop wound. The party of officers included Sgts Pierre, Gopaul and PCs Ramjohn and Modeste ( no relation to Israel Modeste).
The villagers chased Richard’s attacker who ran into the nearby police station to save himself from their fury. He confessed to police that he had chopped Richard and escaped into the station for their protection. He remained in custody yesterday, and the police have recovered the blood-stained cutlass used in the attack.
Newsday understands Richard’s mother lives in the United States and he has been living with an aunt. It is not known where his father lives.
Modeste, Richard’s friend, said everyone at the game were friends and could not believe it ended in death.
“We were all having fun, when one player made a bad tackle causing (the suspect) to fall. This was followed by an argument, which turned into a fight,” he told Newsday.
He said Richard was always a peacemaker and sought to get the two players to stop fighting.
As they all left the recreation ground when the game finally ended, all they could talk about was the match they were to play against El Dorado East.
“We were all in good spirits,” he said. It was to be Richard’s first game for the school as a defender.
When the quarrel later flared up, this time between Richard and the suspect, again an appeal was made for the argument to stop as they had “better things”, which was the league game, to focus on. Modeste said screams were heard shortly after the two walked on. When the friends rushed to see what was happening they found Richard holding his neck, asking for a towel to stop the bleeding before he fell on the roadway.
Another player, Hackim Smith, said the harassment and killing of Richards was more than about football. It was about money, he said, explaining the suspect had borrowed from Richard and was always refusing to repay him. Cpl Kitsingh, of the Toco police, the investigator into the attack has turned over the case to homicide officers.
A relative, who gave his name as Watson, said Richard’s mother had recently told the teenager that she would return soon to take him back to the United States having completed paperwork for him to live there.
Richard was described by classmates as friendly, warm, helpful and never tolerated nonsense. Watson said his son and Richard often limed by his shop at the junction and were always involved in constructive activity to improve their education.
He noted Keshorn Walcott’s Olympic success had recently uplifted the Toco community.
“He (Waclott) is a role model for the youths, but some of them are blind to good things and are mostly interested in the negative,” lamented Watson.
Verona Davis-Modeste, principal of Keshorn Walcott Composite School, said she could not disclose any information about Richard, but said he will be missed by all. The football match against El Dorado East is now due to be played on Monday.