Police said a 71-year-old man was shot dead by a stray bullet as citizens welcomed the New Year on Thursday.

Vernon Carter was looking at fireworks with his grandson outside his home in Maloney when he suddenly collapsed.

Relatives thought the retired postman had suffered a heart attack and took him to the Arima Health Facility where it was found that he had been shot.

His son Kriston Carter, speaking on television Thursday night, said because of the loud explosions from fireworks at the time, they did not hear the gunshots.

“He was showing my son fireworks and all of a sudden he just dropped and held his side. We thought he get a stroke or a cramp and we saw the blood but thought he fell and got cut or something. He kept saying ‘it burning, it burning’,” he added. Carter was pronounced dead at hospital.

Police are also investigating the death of a 40-year-old Sherwin Skeete, who was shot dead in Arima.

Police said that Skeete, who was deported from the United States and an unidentified man were liming when a car pulled up and the occupants fired several shots. Skeete was pronounced dead.

In another incident, police said that a 32-year-old former convict was shot dead near his home on Thursday.

Police said Sheflan Rampersad was shot several times. They said they have no motive for the killing and there are no suspects.

Last year, Trinidad and Tobago recorded 403 murders, compared to 407 the previous year.