Rising national football star Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings’ career was almost ended early yesterday morning by an unidentified gunman who shot him once in his leg as he sat in a car driven by his girlfriend on Simeon Road, Petit Valley after returning home from a boat cruise.
Cummings, 27-years-old, suffered a broken leg but is currently warded in stable condition at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
He will have surgery today that will likely sideline him for several months.
Reports stated that Cummings and his girlfriend arrived at his home around 3am when the gunman sneaked up on the North East Stars footballer and fired once through the vehicle, hitting him on his leg before fleeing. Cummngs’ girlfriend was unhurt in the incident and drove him to the hospital.
No one was arrested up to press time yesterday and West End police officers are investigating.
The predicament brings a sour end to what had been a phenomenal 2015 for Cummings who enjoyed a meteoric rise under national coach Stephen Hart that was highlighted by an impressive double in a 4-4 thriller against Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
Cummings, who was scheduled to join the national training camp in Couva yesterday, will now miss the crucial 2016 Copa America playoff against Haiti on January 8, 2016 in Panama and likely the tournament itself in June if TT emerges victorious.
His January transfer from North East Stars to Orlando City in the MLS (Major League Soccer) following a successful trial three months ago will now definitely be shelved as the national footballer begins his recovery with the hope of recapturing the form that attracted several MLS scouts. An irate North East Stars head coach Roland Clarke yesterday expressed no doubts as to the motive behind the attack on his player. “They showed no signs of robbery. It was a hit due to envy,” he stated emphatically.
National team manager David Muhammad, who visited Cummings at the hospital yesterday concurred. “That act in my assessment was surely an act of vice and envy. The easy thing would have been to shoot in the head or chest if you’re sitting in a car. This person aimed the gun down and towards his leg. They didn’t want to injure him that bad but it was straight to the bone. “A lot of things are being said that I can’t repeat but one of my immediate concerns is if there is some sort of sick mind out there,” he said, while calling for a thorough investigation to be conducted by the police.
He revealed the incident has left Cummings shaken and in a state of depression as his career, which looked to be taking off with his first overseas contract, is curtailed.
“His mood is understandably sombre. He’s in a state of grief trying to wrestle with this tragedy as he was about to go to camp. He was in magnificent form and it’s very painful to come to terms with this.
I believe he will bounce back and play again. He’s surrounded by lots of family and friends and (Orlando City star and national teammate) Kevin Molino visited him too. He (Molino) can definitely offer words of counsel about coming back after he was out for close to six months (with a torn ACL).” National coach Hart, who yesterday returned to Trinidad after spending Christmas with family in Canada, was left stunned on hearing the news that greeted him mere hours as he came off the airplane.
Taking a moment to compose himself, the soft-spoken coach said: “I mean...It’s...We all hope he recovers back to a state where he can go do what he loves. It’s a reality in Trinidad that citizens are not safe and athletes are not safe anymore.” Despite losing arguably his best attacking player for the Haiti match, Hart said the impact it would have has not crossed his mind and he is cognizant it could have been much worse than what transpired.
“If there is a silver lining in a shooting it’s that he’s alive,” he reflected.
Cummings’ shooting is the second incident in just over six months in which a national footballer has been caught in the midst of gunfire. Woman Soca Warrior Ahkeela Mollon escaped death in June earlier this year when she crawled from her car which was shot up in Longdenville, Chaguanas as rival gangs exchanged fire near her home. Mollon was unhurt in that incident.
Team’s co-manager: Someone wanted to ruin Keron’s career.
By Rhondor Dowlat (Guardian).
National midfielder Keron Cummings, 27, was shot and wounded yesterday by a masked gunman, moments after he returned to his home from a boat cruise lime.
Cummings’ team co-manager David Muhammad strongly believes the act may have been committed under envy and is therefore calling for the police to thoroughly investigate the incident “leaving no stone unturned.”
“It seems as though the sole intention was to injure Keron in such a way to ruin his career because Keron has been top of his game more recently,” Muhammad said.
“It is clear that if the gunman really wanted him dead he would have shot him in the head or upper part of the body but he aimed for his leg. And, this of course, is a scary situation,” he added.
Cummings, 27, will definitely miss the Copa América Centenario qualifying play-offs against Haiti on January 8 in Panama City, Panama. Cummings was due to start training with the national team at 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, yesterday, ahead of the Copa playoff.
According to a police report, at about 2 am Cummings was dropped off near Bagatelle corner in Diego Martin by a close female friend when he was approached by a masked gunman, who shot him in the leg before running off.
Cummings, who also plays for the North East Stars, was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital treated and subsequently warded. According to hospital officials, Cumming’s bone has been shattered.
He is due to undergo surgery later today.
An investigating officer said there were no signs of robbery as the motive.
Muhammad said that he, along with several other teammates, have visited Cummings at hospital.
“Keron is struggling to come to terms with this. We all are because this have left all of us in shock,” Muhammad said.
“Some of us are wondering what are the possible risks now especially if that individual (the perpetrator) is still at large and maybe targeting other top players because we still do not know for sure if it is a personal issue or an envy thing. Keron was really in top form. That is why we really want the police to launch an intensive and extensive investigation into this,” he added.
Muhammad said he already spoke to investigating officers and intend to keep in constant contact with them.
Soca Warriors Manager, William Wallace said that he was saddened over the incident and wished Cummings a miraculous speedy recovery.
Cummings was one of the players, who had threatened not to play in the playoff against Haiti but decided to go ahead with the game since they had successfully negotiated for match fees owed to them for the Concacaf Gold Cup, an International Friendly against Nicaragua and two World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the United States.
Cummings scored two goals this year against Mexico in an International Friendly match.
Investigations are continuing.