Christian Steve Hernandez, a 19-yearold Las Cuevas man was shot dead by the pirates early on Monday evening and one of his colleagues remains in hospital in serious condition when he was wounded in the attack.
Hernandez was among five men who came face to face with death when they were intercepted by a vessel occupied by eight Spanish-speaking men. While three of the Trinidadian’s dived into the sea to escape a hail of bullets, Hernandez killed and another man, Roger Clement severely wounded, in a serious condition at hospital in Port-of- Spain.
Newsday understands that Hernandez, along with Roger Clement 26, Brandon Burnley 25, Isaiah Clement 19, and Leron Samaroo, 29 set out to sea on Monday in their 25-foot pirogue to retrieve some nets from the Hibiscus Platform, a short distance away from Staubles Bay.
When they were returning, their boat was intercepted by the pirates. The survivors of the ordeal told police the men took them to a dark area near the platform and proceeded to rob them of items including a tool box and then opened fire on them.
Hernandez and Roger Clement were shot multiple times, while Burnley, Isaiah Clement, and Samaroo jumped off the boat and hid in the water to avoid their attackers.
They emerged from the waves after the pirates sailed off and took their injured colleagues, to Staubles Bay. They arrived on land at about 6 pm on Monday where a Medical Officer declared Hernandez dead on arrival and sought to stabilise the wounded Clement who was transferred to the St James Infirmary.
The three survivors of the ordeal are now in the care of police officers, assisting with the investigation.
Relatives of Hernandez, who gathered yesterday outside the Forensic Science Centre in St James awaiting his autopsy report, told reporters that the young man was one of six children.
“I didn’t even know how to tell my mother when I found out,” a sister of the deceased said. “I called my brother and told him about it but he also didn’t know how to tell our mother.” The man’s sister told reporters Hernandez grew up close to the water in Las Cuevas and learned to fish from a young age. He was described by his family as a quiet yet friendly person.
Yesterday’s incident was the second death at the hands of Spanish- speaking bandits in waters off Trinidad for this month. Marcus Haniff, 23, was killed during a fishing expedition in the Gulf of Paria on September 19.
Newsday understands that Haniff along with Edward Charles and Lennox Charles, all from the Erin area left the Moruga fishing port and were at sea when four armed men pulled up alongside them.
The pirates took their boat engine and all their valuables, before ordering Haniff and his fisherman friends to jump into the ocean. Shots were fired behind the group of men and Haniff, who was a non-swimmer, disappeared.
When the pirates left, the group of men searched the area for Haniff, but could not find his body.
Relatives and police presume Haniff drowned. His body has not yet been recovered.
In another incident involving pirates, five Venezuelans were killed by members of the Guardia Nacionale a few weeks ago while they were in search of two Trinidad and Tobago fishermen, Shawn Madoo and Vishal Ramlochan, who were missing since early July.
The Venezuelan military was reported to be pursuing investigations related to the kidnapping which was reported to the Venezuelan security including the judicial police in early July.
The Trinidad and Tobago fishermen, whose ages were given as 25 and 28 respectively, were said to have been attacked by pirates near a location known as Ducks Island, off the coast of Sucre state.
A Venezuelan newspaper reported that following the kidnapping, the men’s family in Trinidad received communication demanding payment of US $10,000 for each of the men.
There has been no word from either Trinidad and Tobago police or the Venezuelan authorities on the fate of those two fishermen.
Sgt Harvey is continuing investigations into Monday’s incident.