An agent of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) assigned with the Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Twehway, has killed an unarmed civilian in a drive-and-run shooting incident.
Patrick Kollie gunned down his unarmed victim, Valentine Johnson, in the Police Academy community during the early hours of Monday morning. His motive is yet unknown but the killing of the 29-year-old, whose family described him as ‘peaceful and easy-going’, brings to mind the reckless handling of firearms by state security actors from time to time.
Johnson’s killing is one of the several incidents in the last decade where security officers discharged their arms -- killing unarmed civilians that were not a threat.
Kollie, according to the Liberia National Police, has been arrested and is now in custody as the investigation is being conducted to determine the motive behind the killing, and his charges. He had earlier fled the crime scene, which is the Police Academy community, but he was later arrested by the police after some hours.
“The Liberia National Police has arrested an adult male, Patrick Kollie, in connection to the shooting incident that took place last night in the Police Academy Community,” said Police spokesman Moses Carter in a Facebook post. “The shooting incident left one person dead with the corpse currently deposited at the John F. Kennedy hospital.
“Circumstances surrounding the shooting incident are being currently investigated by the Liberia National Police, while the alleged suspect remains in police custody.”
‘Shocking’ to the family
According to Henscin Beyan, a man claiming to be the elder brother of the deceased, Johnson’s killing “is shocking to the family and we cannot still get over it.”
Beyan said Johnson was the last born of their mother and was a loving and easy-going — someone who tried to avoid trouble as much as possible. He added that his family received the news of Johnson's death at 12 a.m. on July 4, via a phone call that someone unknown person shot his brother and had escaped.
“At first, I told myself that was a lie. But when I came and saw it for myself, I was really heartbroken. We were not expecting such a day like this to come.”
“Valentine was born in 1993 and he was the last child of our mother. He is the fourth of our mother’s children. He lived with me for years and went to school. He was a peaceful young man who had no criminal record,” Beyan said. He had three motorcycles and it was on one of the motorcycles he was shot.
“He was not a hungry young man who went out looking for trouble. He went out to have fun with his friends but ended up being killed. We don’t know the doer, nor do we know the intent behind the shooting, but we leave our own with God,” Beyan said amid tears.
The shooting, according to eyewitness accounts, occurred after Kollie pulled out his gun and raised it, but in the process, a shot was fired — “penetrating” the forehead of Johnson who was on a motorcycle with two females.
Johnson, whose Facebook profile shows that he studied at STARZ College and hailed from Ganta, Nimba County, was gunned down while “coming from Senny Bar,” a popular entertainment center in Duport Road.
“The man came out of the white car and called the other two guys who were sitting on the other side. When they were nearing him, the fellow ahead noticed that the man was picking up a gun. He ran away and his friend, too, followed,” the eyewitnesses’ account claimed. “The shooter raised his hand up with the gun and fired, leading to a bullet penetrating the forehead of Johnson who was on a motorcycle with two females. However, Johnson was sitting behind the two ladies and when the gun was fired, it hit him immediately, and that is how he died,” he added. “After the shooter had noticed what he had done, he immediately ran away.”
EPS Disrobe Suspect
The Executive Protection Service, in a statement expressing sympathy with the family of the deceased, disclosed that Kollie has been disrobed and turned over to the Liberia National Police for investigation in accordance with the rule of law.
The EPS is an elite protection guard that protects the President and his family, likewise, the Vice President, special guests, and officials of government the President deemed necessary. “Upon the order of Director Trokon Roberts, agent Kollie has, with immediate effect, been disrobed and turned over to the Liberia National Police for investigation,” the EPS said in a one-page release.
Meanwhile, the National Port Authority, where Kollie worked as a security detail to the Managing Director Bill Twehway, has told the Daily Observer that while they regret the incident, Kollie is an agent of the EPS and he will be dealt with according to law.
The NPA Communication Director, Malcom Scott, added that the shooter was not on duty at the time of the incident or with the port managing director.
“For the record, the shooter was not on duty at the Port nor with the NPA boss at the time he allegedly committed the crime,” he said in a phone interview but confirmed that Patrick Kollie is assigned with Bill Twehway.
He said his boss was out of Monrovia at the time of the incident and he supports the effectuation of the rule of law.