Stirring tributes to slain Policeman By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
June 8, 2002

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MEMBERS of the Police Force, in an impressive ceremonial turnout, yesterday joined the bereaved relatives and friends of Constable Andy Atwell to pay last respects to their fallen comrade.

The funeral service for the young Rural Constable, cut down in the springtime of his youth, in the line of duty, was held at St. Peter's AME Church, Almond Street, Queenstown, Georgetown. The moderate sized church building was packed to capacity and overspilling.

Atwell, 31, gunned down when two carloads of gunmen attacked the Alberttown Police Station, Georgetown on the night of May 30 last, was buried with full military honours.

His body was interred at Le Repentir Cemetery after being escorted by a smartly turned-out contingent of Police ranks in ceremonial attire, heading the cortege.

Among those paying tributes to the slain Policeman was Assistant Commissioner, Laurie George who said, "Andy over the years had proved to be hard working and dedicated."

"His death was a great loss to his family, the unit with which he worked, and the Force as a whole. This dastardly act has not gone unnoted", he said.

He assured that those responsible for Andy's death will be brought to justice.

Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, said, "We can understand crime being committed for gains. We can understand people seeking to derive some benefit from their criminal activities...but tell me, in the name of God...why they would have attacked the Police station, and in the process kill this young man?"

He recalled that just two Saturdays before the incident, at 02:00 hrs, he was at the Georgetown Hospital in connection with those Policemen who had been shot by criminals in the Coldingen area, East Coast Demerara.

"And there was young Atwell", the minister recalled.

He said the young rank was there at that hour, despite the fact (like his elder brother Allan said in the eulogy) that others had discouraged him from continuing policing because of the dangers associated with the job.

"He was full of life, and felt he had much to offer to the agency of the Police, and had been very willing," the Home Affairs Minister stated.

He recalled that earlier that night Atwell went on errands for the Police and returned in the company of his colleagues, "not realising that those would have been his last moments."

Gajraj added, "But while the mortal remains of Andy are interred, his soul lives on, and will inspire his colleagues to a higher ground."

He said Constable Atwell was an individual who was naturally law-abiding.

"He clearly aligned himself with those on the side of the law and wanted to ensure a crime-free society," he added.

He said that despite the fact that Atwell was a Rural Constable, by virtue of his performance and commitment to the job, he was seen as a full-fledged member of the Guyana Police Force.

He said that the young man's actions and his relationship with others in that institution confirm those sentiments.

Expressing sympathy on behalf of himself and the Government, the minister added, "I wish to assure you that we, as an institution, would be there to give you support, and to help you through this dark period to higher and brighter ground."

Gajraj said that earlier yesterday, decisions had been made and that before long the family of Constable Atwell will derive certain benefits.

He said that while appreciating that no amount of material benefits can ever bring him back, it was nonetheless hoped that the assistance would help to cushion the effects of his sudden fall.

Officiating Pastor, Reverend Geoffrey Thompson of St. Peter's AME Church, said that amidst such untoward incidents facing the nation at this time, his Church was not sleeping, but was fasting and praying assiduously.

Extending a welcome to those who would like to join him in prayer for Guyana, Rev. Thompson noted: "I believe...miracles can happen...When all of the things can fail...manpower, and all of the mechanisms can fail, God cannot."

Andy Atwell was born October 5, 1970 to Hyacinth Atwell and Andre Archer and was the fifth of 13 children.

He was described as being very jovial, friendly, cooperative, simple, but disciplined.

His dedication to the task in hand and firmness were spotted since he was young and was soon incorporated into his school's road safety patrol doing drills and marches, and later, football.

He acquired his early military experience in the Guyana National Service and later joined the Police Force where he spent a short while as a motor mechanic.

He also served as chauffeur for Prime Minister Sam Hinds, as well as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana. He served with distinction.

He gave his all to the Guyana Police Force, despite admonishings, and died in the line of duty.

Trying to muster up strength and courage as he read the eulogy, his sorrowing brother Allan concluded: "However, due to the loss of his life in the line of duty, he can rest in peace, knowing that he has become a Martyr in the line of service and protection."

"Andy has passed on, but his spirit will linger in the name of his good," he reassured the sorrowing congregation.

Constable Atwell leaves to mourn his mother, grandmother, brothers and sisters, children and other relatives and friends.