HOAX CALLER AR­RESTED

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

By Julien Neaves

The Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency (SSA) as­sisted with the ap­pre­hen­sion of a man who al­legedly made a hoax phone call to po­lice about a threat to Trincity Mall. The hoax brought out the po­lice and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and spread like wild­fire on so­cial me­dia.

Sources in­formed Newsday that the SSA was in­volved with the sus­pect be­ing held and up to late Thurs­day he was be­ing ques­tioned at Spe­cial Branch of­fices in Port-of- Spain.

The is­sue was ad­dressed by Act­ing Min­is­ter of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Stu­art Young dur­ing a spe­cial news con­fer­ence at the Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, Port-of-Spain.

Young said there had been a num­ber of events and “un­for­tu­nately” ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing and he wanted to put the “true facts” out there so the pub­lic would not be mis­in­formed as to what had been hap­pen­ing.

He re­ported that at ap­prox­i­mately 11.45 am the Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mand re­ceived a tele­phone call from a male “who said some­thing would hap­pen in 15 min­utes” at the Trincity Mall. He said that the pro­tec­tive ser­vices and law en­force­ment agen­cies have an on­go­ing and con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion where they are mon­i­tor­ing things with cer­tain pro­to­cols in place “that stepped into ac­tion and was very ef­fi­cient”.

“So within a mat­ter of min­utes both the Spe­cial Branch, the Crim­i­nal Gang In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit and the North­ern Divi­sion were able to as­sem­ble at the Trincity Mall and have con­ver­sa­tions with the own­ers of the mall as well as the mall se­cu­rity,” he re­ported.

He said that as a re­sult of these con­ver­sa­tions and pass­ing on of in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from Po­lice Com­mand, a de­ci­sion was taken by the own­ers and se­cu­rity of the mall to evac­u­ate the mall.

He re­ported that a very or­derly evac­u­a­tion took place and, de­spite ru­mours, “ab­so­lutely no shots were fired as has been cir­cu­lat­ing”.

Young said fol­low­ing the evac­u­a­tion, which took min­utes, the po­lice Bomb Spe­cial­ist Unit as well as Spe­cial Branch of­fi­cers went through their nor­mal pro­to­cols and swept ev­ery square foot of the mall. He re­ported that this was com­pleted within three hours and then the “all clear” was given. “There were no sus­pi­cious pack­ages found and there was noth­ing un­to­ward found in the vicin­ity,” he added.

Young said there was a ru­mour cir­cu­lat­ing of a sim­i­lar threat posed to Long Cir­cu­lar Mall but that was un­true. He ex­plained that as a re­sult of in­for­ma­tion given to the Trincity own­ers, and the fact that there were only a few estab­lish­ments open for busi­ness as nor­mal at Long Cir­cu­lar Mall, they took a de­ci­sion to close the mall for the rest of the day; both malls are owned by Premier Malls.

“So there was no threat to the Long Cir­cu­lar Mall,” Young said.

He pointed out that due to the ef­fec­tive in­tel­li­gence and mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices as well as other law en­force­ment agen­cies, “The per­son who is al­leged to have made this phone call, which turned out to be a hoax, was ac­tu­ally ap­pre­hended by the Trinidad and Tobago Po­lice Ser­vice.”

He con­tin­ued: “The phone from which the call was made was re­cov­ered in his pos­ses­sion and that per­son is now cur­rently de­tained by the po­lice and is as­sist­ing them with on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

He said there was proper mon­i­tor­ing tak­ing place in ad­vance, the Po­lice Ser­vice and other law en­force­ment agen­cies have been mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and “have shown to­day . . . their ef­fec­tive pro­to­cols went into ac­tion, took place, there were no in­juries, there was no need for panic and in fact worked com­pletely, even lead­ing to the ap­pre­hen­sion of the per­son with the cell­phone from which the call em­anated.”

“We want to thank the Po­lice Ser­vice and thank the other law en­force­ment agen­cies for their ef­fi­cient work and the fact that they were able to very ef­fi­ciently and very quickly, due to the mon­i­tor­ing that is go­ing on in the coun­try, im­me­di­ately move into ac­tion and we had a suc­cess­ful out­come,” he said.

“We want the na­tion to know that the Trinidad and Tobago Po­lice Ser­vice as well as other law en­force­ment agen­cies con­tinue to mon­i­tor the cir­cum­stances and sit­u­a­tions tak­ing place in Trinidad and Tobago and work very ef­fec­tively along with our in­tel­li­gence ser­vices in­clud­ing the Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency,” he said.

Young de­clined to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the sus­pect for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons.

The story made the front page of Newsday and other news­pa­pers in Trinidad & Tobago yes­ter­day.

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