City businessman shot dead

by Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
February 25, 2001

A BUSINESSMAN was early yesterday morning shot dead as he was cleaning the front of his home and business premises at the corner of Sussex and St. Stephens streets, Charlestown, Georgetown.

Relatives said Gregory Gonsalves, 42, was preparing to open the shop for business when he was shot in the left eye and died on the spot.

He was the husband of Portia Gonsalves and father of two daughters, aged 16 and seven years.

The killer stole a few twenty-dollar and one hundred and dollar notes in 'float' money kept in the shop to make change, relatives said.

Gonsalves was obviously shot at close range.

His wife, who was still in bed, recalled hearing someone say, "Give me all wah you got."

Not realising her husband was being attacked, she said she left her bed and through a window him crouched in a pool of blood just outside the window.

With face blasted, and bleeding profusely, there was a deep hole in the socket of the left eye, and huge chunks of flesh in the blood around him.

His mother, Mrs Othelia Gonsalves sobbed, "They killed him like a hog."

Portia told the Chronicle that she and their daughters were still in bed when the incident took place, since the family had gone out to watch the Mashramani costume band and float parade the day before.

"I was...between sleep and wake and I heard somebody saying, `Give me all wah you got', and then I heard a shot.

"But I did not pay much attention to the shot, because we would hear bullets around here ever so often."

"I didn't hear his voice at all. But I decided to get up and look through the window. When I looked I saw him lying on the bridge", she related.

She said she saw a man walking away from the scene turning into Calendar Street, but did not pay much attention to him.

She began screaming. Frantically she said she called to their daughters and her mother to lock their rooms, for she was not sure whether there were other bandits around.

Portia said she tried desperately to get downstairs, but there was heavy grill, and all the doors leading from their residence to the shop on the lower flat were locked. When she finally got the keys and rushed to him, her husband was already dead.

Portia said that her husband had partially opened the shop and was just washing the concrete outside the building when the bandit probably slipped in, and not having found much, came out and accosted him, demanding booty.

She surmised he must have recognised the bandit, since the man was not masked and suggested this probably motivated the killing.

The family said that they always lived in fear since gunshots are regularly heard around the area, and last March bandits made a botched attack on the premises.

They have been living and running the business there for the last three years and were licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

His mother said, "He was my only child...a loving son and a person you could depend on. He was all I had...It's like I'm dreaming or something."

She said her husband died of a heart attack about four years ago. Weeping bitterly for her son, she lamented the manner in which he met his death.

"I feel it much more than my husband's death because my son was not ill. He was strong."

On Friday, his mother recalled, he had taken the family to see the costume band and float parade around the streets, but did not remain with them very long. He returned to the shop.

"It was our last great moment together," she recalled.

She said she too was in bed when his wife telephoned to give her the tragic news.

Neighbours said he was a very quiet man, dedicated to his family.

"And may God deal with the killer for slaughtering the shopkeeper in such a cruel manner", one said.

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