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Tafuna Elem. School forced to evacuate during drug raid on home next to the school

Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson [SN file photo]
Some voice their anger, others say ‘malo lava’ to police for doing their job

Armed DPS police officers participated in executing a search warrant during a raid on a house in Petesa last Thursday afternoon, looking for prohibited weapons, ammunition and illegal drugs.

The raid was carried out by DPS Vice & Narcotics unit — all armed, together with other armed police officers, who were called in to assist with the mission. Also involved in the raid were police K-9 dogs, trained to search for drugs and weapons.

The police raid caused a lot of frustration, anger and also complaint from members of the community especially parents for the Tafuna Elementary School, for putting children and everyone’s lives at risk after the students and all the school personnel were forced to evacuate from the campus during the police raid.

When asked for a comment, Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson confirmed to Samoa News that a raid by DPS police was launched Thursday afternoon near the location of Tafuna Elementary School.

Here is the short email from the police commissioner in response to Samoa News inquiries about the raid:

“The police were executing a Search Warrant signed by the High Court of assault in the first degree; attempted murder in the first degree; possession of a prohibited weapons and unlawful use of weapons. No gunshots were fired. No further comments at this time. Respectfully. Le’i S. Thompson.”

A source close to the investigation that wishes to remain anonymous, said the police raid was an ongoing part of their investigation into the incident where two gunshots were fired at a police unit at the back of the ASTCA compound in Tafuna last year.

A frustrated mother with two children who attend Tafuna Elementary school spoke to Samoa News about the ordeal her children faced when they were forced to evacuate the school campus. She said that police shouldn’t have done their raid during school hours.

Another parent described the incident as a “scary environment” when she arrived at the area to pick up her daughter and saw armed police officers around the area.

A retired cop who was in the police force for over 30 years and is familiar with conducting police raids and executing search warrants from the court, stated that the commissioner and his armed police should have planned their mission well before executing it.

“If this is a search warrant from the court, then DPS already knew their target from their investigation, and they should have planned their mission well before they executed it, set up a good time to avoid any inconvenience for the public. They can conduct it early in the morning before school starts,” the retired police said.

Others have voiced their support of the police commissioner and his team for putting up the effort to minimize criminal acts inside the island.

“I support the raid that was carried out by DPS police officers. Tracking down a suspect[s] can’t wait until school is over or wait until the weekend comes, once DPS find their lead and receives a warrant from the court, it’s their duty to execute that warrant as soon as possible,” said a caller.

Another caller, an elderly woman who lives in the area where police conducted their raid voiced her support for the commissioner and his team for working hard to combat illegal activities in the community.

“Teachers, school personnel and parent should have prepared themselves to face this types of circumstances way back. We are living in the end of time and we have seen a lot of changes in our youth right now. A lot of gang violence now-a-days, young people doing drugs, burglarizing homes and stealing people’s property — and our only hope is our sons and daughters who have been sworn-in as police officers to carry out the hard tasks,” the elderly woman said.

“I believe that police should not wait until school is over or wait until the weekend comes to conduct their duty — the commissioner and his teams were ordered by the court to execute the warrant and they must do it as soon as possible.

“I salute Le’i and his team for carrying out their task wisely without hurting anyone.

“I want to see those people who are responsible for committing criminal acts arrested and locked up in jail for the rest of their life. Prohibited weapons and illegal drugs … must be confiscated and destroyed by police,” she concluded.