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Teenager murdered in sensless shooting by PNG police

Men in police field uniform have shot dead an aspiring 15-year-old touch football player in Moresby Northeast.

The shooting of Joe Michael on Wednesday at Erima, near the Kookaburra Flyover, has sparked an immediate police investigation.

According to eye witnesses, the shooters had pulled up next to a group of touch rugby players waiting to shower at a broken water tap under the bridge and started shooting.

Joe Michael, who died at the scene, was the only victim of the indiscriminate shooting.

He was with his two cousins, who were earlier discussing their Christmas and New Year plans, when his life was cut short.

Michael, from Gabadi, Kairuku-Hiri district of Central Province, was hoping to one day play representative football. He was exceptional on the field, often leading his team in the game normally referred to as rugby touch.

He had been adopted by a family from Morobe and Gabadi. He leaves behind his heartbroken grandmother and a brother who is living with a disability.

Wednesday evening was a normal run of training before the team headed to the bridge along the road to Jackson Airport, where they normally go to refresh under the broken water tap there.

Joe Michael and cousins Clement Sariman and Eddie Ian were awaiting their turn at a shower when an unidentified vehicle pulled up along the bridge, and without asking questions, the occupants opened fire on the trio.

The men are allegedly police officers, who opened fire, causing the three boys to run for their lives.

Clement said all they heard from the gunmen was “ol tasol, holim ol (that’s them, hold them)”.

“When the gunfire started, I ran along the fence, ducking and running for my life,” Clement said.

Eddie and Joe took to the drain, running and ducking.

“I ran ahead of Joe and all I heard from him was ‘Eddie’ … that was all I heard because a bullet had just passed me. I didn’t stop to check him, I ran all the way home,” Ian said.

“When I arrived home, I asked the family if they had seen Joe Michael or Clement Sariman. They said no, so with uncles and aunts, we ran back to check Joe and Clement.

“We found Joe gasping his last breath and died at the scene where he fell,” Ian Eddie said.

Clement Sariman said that he was taken to Eight-Mile by the men and was asked in Tok Pisin; “ki we (where’s the key)?”

“I told them I did not know what key they were talking about, but they kept on asking me about a key.

“They let me out at Eight-Mile near the roundabout, and I ran all the way back to Erima where I heard the news that Joe had been killed.”

The family said they found Joe holding his stomach, and from his body, they noticed a bullet had hit his back, near his spine, and came out his belly button.

NCD metropolitan commander Chief Superintendent Perou N’Dranou said that he was aware of the shooting and would allow his homicide police team to investigate.

“I will be briefed today on the shooting, but I will allow for investigations to continue before I can say anything about the case,” he said, adding that police have interviewed family members and witnesses.

Eddie Ian and Clement Sariman remember their cousin as someone they could count on for support and share a joke.

They are currently assisting police with their investigations.

His family said when his adopted father died, Joe Michael left school but had re-enrolled to attend St Peter’s Primary School at Erima to do Grade 8 next year.

“He was quiet and never asked for anything. If he wanted something, he got it on his own through hard work. He was a great rugby touch player and was aspiring to have a better life for himself, his brother and his grandmother.”

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

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