HOAX CALLER ARRESTED
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.