There were hardly any dry eyes yesterday at the final send-off for the four young siblings killed in the Heights of Guanapo, Arima, last week Thursday.
Faith Peterkin, 10; Arianna Peterkin, 14; Shain Peterkin, 17; and Tiffany Peterkin, 19, were gunned down around midnight as they slept at home with their relatives.
Scores of mourners attended the funeral service at K Allen and Sons’ Funeral Directors on Broadway Street in Arima.
As they walked through the doors, attendees passed near the closed caskets of the Peterkins, whose images were printed on them. The caskets could not be opened as their bodies began to decompose before the autopsy earlier this week. Blame was placed on the first funeral home but one of their representatives placed blame for this on the police.
Despite it being a part of the programme, there was no eulogy, as relatives were unable to contain their grief. Some sat stoic during the service, others shed tears and hugged each other.
Pastor Marlon Alvarez, who spoke at length about the spate of crime in the country, said murders have become an everyday occurrence. However, he said this particular incident served as a new low.
“The numbness of a nation gripped in what is now an everyday occurrence of callousness, cold-heartedness, ruthlessness, lawlessness that apparently we have become desensitised to. Whether we consider today to be more, or less dark, it is still a very dark day in T&T,” he said.
The pastor also issued a warning to those responsible for committing the crime, advising that while they may escape the law, they cannot escape the wrath of God.
“To the person or persons that have caused us to be in this dark moment today, and have many other people across this nation in similar circumstances, is better yuh hang a millstone around your neck because God coming for yuh,” he said.
Alvarez also cautioned people against blaming politicians for the nation’s decline, as he noted that individuals are responsible for their own actions. He, however, criticised law-abiding citizens who see criminal activity and say nothing.
“By not taking a side, you are taking a side. Silence is consent. When we stay silent, eventually, the bullets reach by us. We tell ourselves is them, is somebody else. But not long afterwards is meh neighbour and not before long is my house and how have we gotten here in the first place? Because some dotish individual decided to do something wrong and nobody said nothing, nobody did anything,” the pastor said as he fought back tears.
As the floor was opened for tributes, those who knew the children responded to social media theories that suggested there was a sinister reason for their killings.
“I will miss them so much but I just want everybody to know, today, whatever rumours you hear, it wasn’t true. These were the most loving children ever,” said Pixie Lares, who lives in the area and watched the victims grow up.
One of Tiffany’s relatives, Marion Stephens, also shared her view.
“It’s really a real sad thing. You know, people always say somebody nice when they gone but this girl was really a nice girl,” she said.
The principal of the Santa Rosa Government Primary School, where ten-year-old Faith attended, said her teachers and pupils needed counselling after the incident. She said the school is also mourning the older siblings, who received their primary education there.
“The children are behaving differently, and they are really saddened and grief-stricken by this,” she said.
Meanwhile, Arima MP Pennelope Beckles admonished the public against speculating about the motive for the killings. She said people have been judgemental despite not having the facts.
“The heinousness of the crime, the wickedness of what has transpired, it is very difficult for anybody to contemplate what is in the minds of people to do such an act. So, this is not the time for us to come to all kinds of conclusions,” Beckles said.
Two of the victims’ siblings survived the attack, along with their mom Anesa Rampersad and dad Sean Peterkin, who were present at the funeral.
Police have arrested one person in connection with the brutal incident.