Interest charge

Soldier detained in connection with Pennywise robbery released without charge


Ishmael Salaam departs the San Fernando Police Station on Saturday after five days in custody related to Pennywise’s September 19 heist. –Lincoln Holder

After a week in police custody, the 24-year-old soldier detained in connection with the deadly La Romaine robbery on Monday was released without charge.

Ishmael Salaam, who had been deemed a “person of interest”, was seen leaving the San Fernando police station around 3 p.m. Saturday with two plastic bags.

When approached, the Fyzabad resident said, “I have no comment.”

One of his lawyers, Jade Martinez, confirmed that at 1:55 p.m. his client was allowed to leave the police station.

No other information was given. Salaam, a member of the TT Regiment based at Camp La Romaine, was also represented by lawyers Criston J Williams and Blaine Sobrian.

Salaam had been in police custody since Monday evening when he went to the train station to report that armed men had stolen his Nissan X-Trail SUV at gunpoint in La Romaine. The police also searched the soldier’s locker at the camp.

On Thursday, the lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus requesting their client’s release.

The hearing took place in the High Court on Friday when Judge Devindra Rampersad gave police a 2pm deadline on Saturday to decide the fate of the soldier.

The lawyers argued that it was unconstitutional for the police to detain their client for days without charge.

In response, the police argued that the soldier’s detention was not arbitrary but rather reasonable and justified.

Prior to Friday’s hearing, investigators met with officials from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Police were to hold an identification parade and the judge adjourned the case to Saturday.

The soldier was one of five people detained.

The four suspects, two from Arouca and two from Pleasantville, remain in custody without charge as of Saturday evening.

Shortly after 5pm on Monday at the Pennywise Super Center gunmen ambushed and fired at a van with three security guards employed by Allied Security Ltd, beating them before seizing bags of cash.

Jeffery Peters, 51, and Jerry “Bat” Stuart, 49, have died. Their colleague Peola Baptiste, 57, remained seriously injured at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope until Saturday.

They carried money collected from several companies.

Police said Allister Harris, 47, who works with Phoenix Protective Services at the plaza, was also hit. He was slightly injured and was treated and discharged on Monday.

A bullet grazed a nine-year-old boy from Siparia during a police chase of the bandits. His injuries are not life threatening and he was still in San Fernando General Hospital.

The gunmen left in a car and the soldier reported that while he was on a road near the M2 ring road at La Romaine, gunmen robbed him at gunpoint from his SUV.

The bandits burned their car and fled in his van, he said.

But the police caught them and cornered them in a house. A firefight ensued, which left four of Fyzabad’s men dead.

The dead men were Greg Dodough, Deaundre Montrose and brothers Kyle and Keyon Ramdhan. Police also recovered the cash, firearms, body armor and other items.

Kyle was out on bail charged with attempted murder by the Siparia Magistrates’ Court.

On April 25, Keyon survived a shooting that claimed the life of 25-year-old Hakeem “Skinny” Peters of Lezama Trace, South Oropouche.

Keyon was backing a Nissan Versa car out of the family yard in Delhi Road, Fyzabad, where gunmen ambushed them.

Peters died in the front passenger and the car crashed near a concrete drain. Keyon was also affected.

Dodough and Montrose’s parents condemned their children’s actions. The parents said they were unaware that their children were involved in illegal activities. Dodough and Montrose have no criminal records.

The parents also apologized to the families of the security guards and offered their condolences.

Investigations are ongoing.