Gunmen terrorise Cornelia Ida family
--some $300,000 taken

By Leonard Gildarie
Stabroek News
March 14, 2000

Kick-down-the-door bandits seem to have surfaced again with an assault on the Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara home of an America Street businessman last Friday morning, in which over $300,000 in local and foreign currencies was taken and shots fired, though no one was seriously hurt.

The four bandits had handkerchiefs covering the lower part of their faces and were dressed in "black clothes like police clothes," the businessman, Mohamed Razack, told this newspaper.

Razack said he was asleep when at about 0300 hrs, he heard loud and continuous thudding sounds coming from his children's bedroom door as if someone was slamming something into it. He said he shouted "Thief! Thief!" and the noise ceased, only to begin again at his bedroom door. He said that the bandits were already in the house and he said he later realised that they had entered by removing louvre panes from a window in the hallway.

Feeling afraid, Razack said, he told his wife, Devika Jaipaul, to jump through the bedroom window. Against the noise of the splintering door, they quickly removed a few of the louvre panes and she jumped the 15 feet to the ground. Meanwhile, the bandits had become impatient at the time it took to break the door down and discharged several rounds into the door and wall of the hallway. The door gave away, Razack said, and three men of the four men rushed into the room brandishing guns.

The businessman said that they did not notice him immediately as it was dark, and thinking that he was hiding under the bed, fired a shot in that direction. Razack said he then stepped forward from where he had been standing at the side of the wardrobe and the men grabbed him by his hair and demanded to know: "whey de cocaine, guns and grenade deh." One of them slammed a gun into the side of his head and the other hit him on his left cheek with a cutlass.

Razack said he told the men he had no guns, grenade or cocaine and they then demanded to know where the money was. The businessman said he told the men that the money, which he used for his daily business and amounting to a little over $300,000 in local and foreign currencies, was in the head board of the bed and in a bag on the ground.

He said the men went outside into the hall and he heard them telling someone called 'Sarge' that the "woman gone wid de bag." Razack said the fourth bandit replied: "How you could mek duh happen?"

He said that the men then left headed east down the street on foot, and discharging several rounds into the air. The ordeal lasted some 30 minutes, Razack said and the bandits never entered his children's room, for which he was grateful. The Razacks have a ten-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.

The businessman said that after the bandits left, clad only in his underwear, he borrowed his neighbour's car and went to the Leonora Police Station, from where ranks followed him back to the scene.

Jaipaul, 29, speaking with this newspaper said that after she jumped through the window, she clambered over her neighbours' fence and crouched behind it. She said that as she looked up, one of the men peered through her bedroom window, apparently searching for her. He withdrew, the woman said, and seizing the opportunity, she ran to the next neighbouring six-foot fence, jumped over that one and hid in the outdoor toilet. Jaipaul, who was nursing pains in her body from the long jump to the ground recalled hearing several fading shots as the men departed the area.

A neighbour, who asked not be named, said that he had just returned to bed after looking at television when he heard the loud noises from next door and the subsequent shouts of "Thief!" He said he peeped through the window and saw a figure with a gun-like object in his hands. Someone else in his home got up at the same time and switched on a light and one of the bandits sprayed several shots into his home, the man said, pointing out several bullet holes.

Residents of the area were forced to stay in their homes by the gunfire the bandits used to cover their escape. A resident who lives on the public road and was awakened by the gunshots said that he saw the bandits cross the public road and head into a track leading to the backdam, which is located in the south of the village. Villagers, armed with cutlass, tried to track the bandits, but soon lost them as they had to keep their distance. Residents said that this was the first time the village had ever had such an experience.

On Saturday, another WCD home was robbed of more than $1 million, when two bandits held a gun to the neck of a grandmother and ransacked her home at La Union, carrying off cash, jewellery, car stereos and household items.

Last Monday, the Shell Gas Station at La Union was burgled and some $1 million in merchandise taken. La Union is about five miles from Cornelia Ida. The police are investigating the incidents.