Gunmen storm Highlanders panyard, rob player – Band gets time to regroup for prelims

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.