TT – Gunmen stormed the panyard where the Highlanders Steel Orchestra was practising on Monday night, stealing a phone and causing eight players to immediately quit and leave the band in disarray before yesterday’s crucial Panorama preliminaries.
As a result of the incident, the band’s manager Robert Hernandez wrote to Pan Trinbago asking them to postpone the day the band was to be judged – which was originally yesterday.
On Monday around 8 pm, the Highlanders players had gathered for practice when two men entered the panyard with guns drawn.
The band was practising at the Uni Stars panyard on Bertie Marshall Boulevard, previously known as Old St Joseph Road in Laventille, as renovations on the Highlanders’ panyard on the Eastern Main Road are ongoing.
The gunmen approached a group of about a dozen players who were liming near a pan rack and announced a hold-up. They stole the Samsung cellphone of a female player before an alarm was raised. Some men in the panyard responded and the gunmen ran off.
The incident traumatised the players, many of whom are teenagers, forcing band member to cancel practice for the night.
A police report was made and officers of the Besson Street Police Station and the Inter-Agency Task Force responded.
On Tuesday only a handful of players turned out to practice. Eight players signalled their intention never to return to the band.
“We wrote Desiree Myers, the head of the North region and explained what was happening,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez told the T&T Guardian that the loss of the players forced the band to make adjustments and move around players to different sections.
Highlanders were supposed to be one of the small conventional bands who were to be judged last night. However, Pan Trinbago acceded to their request and rescheduled the judging at the panyard to today.
New security arrangements have also been introduced at the panyard, Hernandez said yesterday. Police have also been patrolling regularly, he said. He thanked the remaining players for sticking with the band despite the situation.
“We cannot let the evil succeed, we can’t let them win and what we’re doing here fall apart,” Hernandez said.
Highlanders are playing Farmer nappy’s Hooking Meh, arranged by Kareem Brown, as their tune of choice.