Cambio bandit shot dead

By Shauna Jemmott, Linda Rutherford and Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
September 23, 1999

POLICE and soldiers were last night trying to flush out three remaining bandits from a canefield after one was shot dead following a daring daylight gun robbery in Georgetown that left five persons wounded.

Relatives feared that three men who had not turned up by late last night had been held hostage by the bandits hiding out in the dense Mocha/Arcadia, East Bank Demerara canefield.

Police said they had no confirmed reports of hostages, but relatives said they were told the men had been seized by the gang.

Police and Army units last night tightened up a cordon that they threw around the area with the help of an Army helicopter, road blocks and high-powered search lights.

A platoon of Timehri-based special forces moved in for a full out ground operation last night as crowds began to disperse after standing for hours by the roadside. The area was in total darkness and Police were only allowing a limited number of vehicles into the village.

Earlier in the afternoon, villagers were only being allowed in on foot.

The suspected mastermind of the robbery, Linden London, former Army special forces member and two others were reported caught in a Police/Army dragnet aback Mocha and nearby areas.

Police said they suspect the three are armed with sub-machine guns and hand grenades.

Dead is Terry Madhoo called `Rusty' who was shot around 14:00 hrs during a standoff with the Police in the canefield after he and his three cohorts wounded five in a hail of gunfire on America Street in the city.

Police said Madhoo who had escaped from the Mazaruni Prison while serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter was fatally shot and a .32 revolver was recovered from his body. He was also wanted for a series of armed robberies around the country.

Wounded in the mid-morning robbery by the gang which robbed D. Singh and Sons Cambio and grocery store of an estimated $72M are Policeman Ewart Hutson called `Toots'; Brian Nelson called `Tossie' of 93 Crane Housing Scheme, West Coast Demerara; salesman Mohamed Mubarak Khan, 35, of Meten-Meer-Zorg East, West Coast Demerara; Vishnu Narine, 20, of Herstelling, East Bank Demerara and Jermaine Brower.

Reported critical in the Georgetown Hospital last night were Nelson and Khan.

Hutson who was off duty, but in the area when the bandits attacked, was shot in his shoulder, hand, hips and leg and reportedly lost a finger. Up to press time, he was reported in a stable condition.

Nelson, a cambio dealer who was in the area at the time, suffered a penetrating bullet wound to the right side of his chest and two to his abdomen; Khan was wounded in his lower back and leg; and Narine was shot on his right leg.

The wounded were rushed to the Georgetown Hospital, where they were admitted for immediate surgery, a doctor told the Chronicle.

The bandits also carted off an undisclosed sum of US, Canadian and Eastern Caribbean currency from D. Singh and Sons.

Police said at about 10:00 hrs four well-dressed, masked men carrying firearms pulled up in a white Toyota Corona PFF 7962 and attacked a vehicle used to conduct cambio business which was parked outside the Sadia Import/Export premises on America Street.

The bandits, Police reported, opened the trunk of the car belonging to Swiss cambio employee Haniff Bacchus of Nandy Park, East Bank Demerara and escaped with an undisclosed sum of money in a waiting car.

Eyewitnesses, however, said the bandits wearing `bullet proof' vests fired about five shots and blasted open the trunk of Bacchus' car, PFF 111, and subsequently stormed into D. Singh and Sons.

Reports are that Hutson was wounded while attempting to draw one of his weapons.

The bandits kept up the hail of gunfire keeping passersby at bay, forcing many to dive for cover. Store owners hurriedly shut doors, scrambling shoes and other items on display in their haste to hide.

Workers at D. Singh and Sons said before they could lock the door, three of the men were already inside asking "Whey `Blackie' deh, whey `Blackie' deh?." `Blackie' is the proprietor of the store, Rameshwar Singh.

Eyewitnesses said two stayed by the car they had just robbed and were shooting up into the air.

Inside the store, which faces south, witnesses said they began firing shots indiscriminately, telling everybody to "get down". They went into the cambio on the western side, took all the money and rushed out.

Eyewitnesses said they then jumped into the waiting vehicle which faced west, firing in the air to clear the way as they headed along Water Street.

They reportedly went through Robb Street, turned into Avenue of the Republic and down Regent Street, shooting at a car in hot pursuit.

Police said they chased the gang as far as North Ruimveldt where they abandoned the car and subsequently hijacked a tractor operating in the area. They then proceeded to the canefield.

As the bandits stormed into D. Singh and Sons, terrified employees forced their way further into a storeroom, tripping over each other and goods in the haste to hide.

One told the Chronicle that he and Narine were in the cambio section when they heard gunshots. He said he opened the door and ran further into the store, leaving Narine, who had only been employed there for about one week now.

The worker said he heard more gunshots, but did not look to see anything, since "they start shoot".

Security guard, Paul Morris, said he was sitting on a bench inside the front of the store when he heard the shots. "We had to run... everybody had to run because they tell everybody get down. I had to keep down because if I de raise up me head, I would a get shot... all wha I hear deh seh `Whey Blackie deh, Whey Blackie deh?'".

"All gone, all the US, everything, everything," manager of the cambio, Latchman Singh called `Latcho' cried to a friend as he sat inside the just-robbed store.

Several spent shells were scattered on the floor.

Khan, another of those wounded yesterday, was hit as bullets smashed through the Sadia Import/Export building.

Proprietor of the store, Shiraz Ali told the Chronicle he was not around at the time of the incident, but was summoned by other employees who told him Khan was hit on his leg and back as bullets travelled through the window of the store.

Eyewitnesses said the bullets ripped through three wooden shutters used to board up the windows of the store and which were behind each other and wounded Khan.

Hundreds of people flocked the area after the incident, reliving the terror and several stores on the street closed for the day.

For the rest of the day, swarms of cops and soldiers moved steadily in the canefields aback of Mocha in pursuit of the three.

Reinforcements were flown in by the Army helicopter which also provided aerial coverage for the ground forces trying to flush out the bandits.

Police recovered a bag of weapons dropped by the three. It was not clear who the other two were with London, but sources said they were most likely all members of the same gang responsible for a series of recent violent robberies.

As night fell, the cordon was being drawn tighter in the target area.

Sources said Deputy Superintendent Leon Fraser played a leading role in the hunt for the three.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples