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The first day of skills training at the MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) in O’Meara, Arima, yesterday turned out to be traumatic for close to 70 trainees, after a gunman ran in, opened fire and held one of them hostage.
The gunman had minutes before opened fire on a group of responding police officers, who also returned fire as he was attempting to elude them. Luckily, no one was injured during the ordeal.
The suspect, a 32-year-old Santa Cruz man, was eventually subdued and arrested by officers after a brief negotiation to get him to release his hostage.
The incident stemmed from an argument between the suspect and a 20-year-old MIC trainee, who was on her first day of training in a construction technology programme.
One eyewitness told the T&T Guardian that at about 7.40 am a taxi pulled up near MIC-IT. The young trainee and the suspect were in the taxi. However, the taxi driver made his way to the security guard and informed them there was an ongoing heated argument between the two passengers.
“The man told me that the woman was being threatened and told by the man that he had a gun on him. It look like the man jumped in the taxi with her and another trainee and when they reached here the man did not want the woman to go into the institute and that’s how the argument began,” the eyewitness said.
The eyewitness added that when the security was alerted they contacted an official at the institute’s office, who called the police.
“When the police came the girl ran into the hall and the man began running towards the police shooting at them about five times. The officers shot behind him but they missed. He then ran into the hall where the other trainees were and that’s where it got worst,” the eyewitness said.
Another eyewitness, an instructor who wished not to be identified and/or recorded, said when the gunman ran into the hall, “he fired about three shots in the air and grabbed a male trainee who was sitting with his head down on the desk. That trainee who was taken hostage was wearing earphones, so he did not hear any of the commotion, so that is why he was held so easy because the rest of trainees ran out and I escorted them to the muster point and tried to calm them down.”
After holding the male trainee hostage for about ten minutes, the suspect released him and surrendered himself to the police around 9 am.
The man was then taken to the Arima Police Station for questioning and shortly before 3 pm he was escorted to his home in Santa Cruz as part of their ongoing investigations.
Arista Maraj, of MIC-IT’s corporate communications department, told the T&T Guardian that a meeting has been called for Thursday “to discuss the incident with parents whose children attend the O’Meara Technology Centre.” Maraj added that the Employee Assistance Programme also remains in effect for all employees and trainees who were involved in the traumatic incident.
MIC-IT staff are also said to be assisting police with their investigations.
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