Prison officer killed, another wounded
Five on the run By Oscar Clarke
February 24, 2002
A police manhunt is underway for five inmates of the Georgetown Prison, who shot their way to freedom yesterday morning, leaving one prison officer dead and the other wounded.
Dead is Troy Williams, 21, of Berbice, while Roxanne Winfield, 37, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara (ECD) is listed as critical with a bullet lodged near her nose.
Reports indicate that the five escapees are Dale Moore, Shawn Brown, Mark Fraser, Andrew Douglas and Troy Dick. They have been described as armed and dangerous.
A release from the Guyana Police Force stated that the five staged their daring jailbreak at about 11:00 am yesterday after shooting the two officers.
According to the release, initial reports indicate that a prisoner who was working at the laundry had approached the officers and requested to use an iron. Shortly afterwards, Brown appeared and shot the officers before seizing the keys and bursting to freedom with the other four.
The police said that once the group had cleared the main entrance they boarded PGG 4697, a grey Toyota Camry which was waiting and sped away in the direction of Albouystown.
This car was ditched on Mandela Avenue in a trench opposite the well and the police said the bandits then hijacked motorcar PGG 6626. They drove to Dennis Street and the University of Guyana road where they abandoned the second car.
Owner of PGG 6626, Rhonda Marshall of East Ruimveldt told Stabroek News last night by telephone that she was at the corner of Cemetery Road in the vicinity of the Ruimveldt well waiting to turn left into Mandela Avenue. At the time she said she was going home after visiting a friend. In the car with her were her mother and her 14-month-old baby.
She said that the men blocked her passage with another car got out and "ordered us out with guns and knives." Her mother could not get out of the car quickly and one of the men held a gun to her head while another held a knife to the head of the baby.
One of the men went around to her side demanding: "Get out! Get Out!" She said she believed that there were seven men as three squeezed into the front seat and four into the back seat.
The car was later found in Sophia but without the baby's car seat, and with its wiring and tyres damaged. Marshall's driver's licence and other documents were scattered in the car and all the money in her purse which was over $7,000 had been taken.
Traumatised by the event, she said, the relief of her narrow escape was still sinking in. Up to late yesterday evening, Camp Street in front of the prison was closed to vehicular traffic as investigations continued into the mid-morning jailbreak.
Senior prison officials along with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Angela Johnson, arrived at the prison shortly before midday. Several officers who were dressed and ready to be part of the annual Mashramani Float and Costume Parade through the city streets, abandoned the festivities and returned to the Camp street prison.
Shouts of anguish resounded outside the jail as officers wept openly on receiving news of the fate of their colleagues. Many were seen striping off their costumes. According to an officer several of them had gone to participate in the annual mash festivities while others were participating in a training course. According to some officers who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident, they saw their colleagues being removed in a bloody mess shortly after the prison siren was sounded to alert them. Evidence of this was clearly visible on the ground outside the main gate, where there was a pool of blood and a trail leading to the road.
According to an officer, Winfield, the key-keeper yesterday, did not normally work at that location and was manning the gate for the first time. She had apparently refused to allow the prisoners out and was then shot. Questioned about the origins of the weapon(s) used in the attack, officers stated that the gun(s) were not service issue and were unable to shed any light on the origin.
Other sources told this newspaper that the weapons, one of which was an automatic, might have been thrown over the prison fence from the Bent Street side.
Relatives of Winfield who flocked to the hospital on receiving the news stated that her husband Mark Winfield, also a prison office, currently resides in the Turks and Cacaos Islands. The couple have two children, a five-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son. The woman has been in the prison service for the last seven years.
The family were unhappy about the treatment being given to the critically injured woman. She had been placed on a ventilator and they said they were told that was the most that could be done for her at present as there were no surgeons with the expertise to perform the operation required. She also could not be moved. Winfield was said to have been shot in the right side of her jaw with the bullet lodging in the nasal passage. They were told that she required four pints of blood.
Meanwhile, police were up to late yesterday combing several areas in and around Sophia and Turkeyen as the search intensified for the men.
All police locations were said to be on alert and authorities in neighbouring territories notified.
An appeal was made to citizens to report to the police any suspicious looking persons or information they might acquire that would aid in the recapture of the criminals.
According to the police, Moore and Douglas were on remand after being charged with a series of murders and robberies under arms, Browne had been remanded following charges in connection with a series of robberies under arms. Fraser was serving a sentence of 25 years for robbery while Dick was on remand for murder.
Meanwhile the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has issued a wanted persons bulletin. Moore, whose age was given as 29, was described as of medium built, dark in complexion with a scar below his left ear, brown eyes, 5'9" in height and last known to have resided at Lot 10 Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara.
Browne was also said to be 29-years old and once resided at Lot 60 Pike Street, Kitty. His height was given as 5'4". He was said to be of medium build, with brown eyes, and brown complexion with a scar on his left forearm.
Douglas also called 'Fine Man', 'Todd' or 'Destee' was said to be 35 years old and of Lot 33 Crane Housing Scheme, West Coast Demerara or Lot 32 Friendship, ECD. His height was given as 5'6" of slim build with brown eyes and a dark brown complexion. Douglas is also said to have a scar on his left hand, a small cut on his left eye and a black mark on his left breast.
Dick who formally resided at Lot 65 Dennis Street, Campbellville was described in the bulletin as of slim build, with brown eyes, dark brown complexion with scars on both his hands and on his right check. The 28-year-old fugitive was also said to be 5'7" tall.
Fraser also called 'Baldhead' or Mark Ferdinand is 22-years-old, 5'7" tall, of slim build with brown eyes and dark complexion. His last known address was given as Lot 61 Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara. Persons with information, which could lead to the recapture of the prisoners, are being asked to contact police at 226-6978, 225-8196, 226-9941, 226-1326, 225-3061 or 225-3650 or the nearest police station. The worst year for jail breakouts in recent times was 1999. On August 29 of that year four persons made a mid-morning bid for freedom from the Georgetown prison. Maxwell 'Lunkie' Melville and three convicted prisoners scaled the John Street fence and escaped in a waiting car.
As a consequence of that breach, Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, convened a Board of Enquiry headed by Peter Willems. The board found that there had been a breakdown of the custodial system on the day in question, and recommended that the surveillance cameras be activated and extra barbed wire placed on top of the fence. Subsequent to the submission of the report, one person was dismissed and several others transferred.
Even while the report was under consideration, however, another inmate made good his escape from the Georgetown jail on November 6, by scaling the fence near to the D'Urban Street gate. Gajraj was later to disclose that the surveillance cameras, although working, were not being monitored at the time of the escape.
Not long afterwards, a prisoner at the Mazaruni prison followed suit and made his getaway while working on the farm. On December 9, three more inmates from the Mazaruni jail escaped, ostensibly while they were locked down in the wee hours of the morning.
Prior to 1999, there had been breakouts, riots and other problems of a serious nature in the Georgetown, Mazaruni and Lusignan prisons.