Fatal bullet came from car
Prison escapee linked to vehicle Editorial
Stabroek News
April 5, 2002

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Police Superintendent Leon Fraser was killed on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire that came from the stolen car which law enforcers had been tipped off about and it has been confirmed that at least one of the February 23 prison escapees had been in the vehicle.

These disclosures were made yesterday by the police in a statement two days after the shocking killing of Fraser. Up to yesterday, the police seemed no closer to tracking down his five killers who are believed to be responsible for a recent spate of serious crimes.

After very little was officially released on Tuesday and Wednesday, the police yesterday said that a party of 12 men including Fraser, acting on intelligence reports, had proceeded to the Yarowkabra community on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. At a point five miles inland, they observed a suspicious-looking car concealed by bushes and a tent some distance away. According to the release, the men, after moving into a special formation, divided themselves into two groups; some proceeding to the tent while others, led by Fraser, headed for the car. As they neared the vehicle a hail of bullets emanated from it and Fraser was fatally wounded. The other members of his group took cover before returning fire, the release said. Reinforcements were summoned and were immediately dispatched to the area from several bases. The statement said that the search for the attackers began right away and intensified upon the arrival of reinforcements. Questions had been raised about whether the search began immediately and if it did how come the police were unable to apprehend any of the five.

In the meantime, Fraser was rushed to the St Joseph Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The car PFF 1059 discovered at the site, the release further stated, was later identified as one which was stolen from Canadian citizen, Robert Croft. Scientific tests revealed that at least one of the five men who escaped from the Georgetown prison on Mash day - killing one guard and seriously injuring another - had been in it.

Forensic tests carried out on Colonel Christine King's car, which was hijacked on Monday night in Queenstown by four armed men, also revealed fingerprints of one of the escapees.

The police said that the release was issued in an effort to clear up the assortment of rumours with respect to the circumstances surrounding Fraser's death.

A senior police officer also told Stabroek News that about 20 other fingerprints were also found on the car. The senior officer stated that members of the unit who accompanied Fraser on the mission on Tuesday positively identified two of the five escapees.

A Stabroek News reporter examined the shoot-out area yesterday and saw several spent shells from a 9 mm Luger, 7.62x39 mm and AK-47 weapons, along with evidence that the occupiers of the camp had eaten there.

A darkened spot in the sand close to the entrance of the inlet where the car was concealed identified the area where the fatally wounded Fraser fell after being shot.

There was also evidence of a gun battle as limbs of trees carried telltale signs of recent firing activity which the bandits were said to be responsible for as they retreated deeper into the forested area.

According to sources, the vehicle was stumbled upon early on Tuesday morning after fresh footprints were seen in the area. It had been covered by camouflaging vines and shrubs.

Sources say that three of the attackers were believed to have been resting in the vehicle at the time Fraser and his party arrived. The sources say the men in the vehicle might have been alerted by the sound of a twig snapping as it was stepped upon by a policeman approached the vehicle. Shortly before that, Fraser had ordered his men to stop short of the inlet where the vehicle was located and await his command, as he approached to observe the scene. It was then that a rapid volley of gunshots rang out from the parked vehicle, resulting in Fraser falling forward on his face in front of the vehicle.

For a brief moment, the rest of the squad on hearing the burst of artillery hit the ground while others took cover, the sources say.

This was the moment, the sources stated, that the men, after leaving the car let loose a machine gun fusillade into the heavily forested area as they retreated. They were also said to have fired into the ground kicking up a cloud of dust to impair the vision of the policemen as they made good their escape.

By the time the policemen began to return fire, the men, it was said, had managed to retreat deep into the forest.

After several minutes of gunfire, Fraser's colleagues were finally able to reach his body, which they turned over revealing the hole in his forehead and a pool of blood where it was resting. He was said to have been armed with two weapons, one in his hand and the other strapped across the front of his chest.

Once it had been ascertained that the area was safe, the other members of the unit immediately carried him out to be transported to the city hospital. Close examination of the area where the vehicle was discovered revealed that it was heavily forested on both sides, with only a small track to accommodate one vehicle at a time. It is believed that this thick vegetation impeded the ability of the policemen to effectively surround their target prior to moving in. Sources say there were indications that some of the men might still be in the heavily forested area.