Cops, bandits in city chase
Prado sprayed with bullets
By Samantha Alleyne, Kim Lucas and Oscar P. Clarke
June 29, 2002
A high voltage shoot-out between the police and a carload of gunmen yesterday spanned several streets and left three people injured, including a young cop. The gunmen escaped and up to press time the police were still searching for them.
The drama began to unfold at about 11:40 hrs, when a passing police patrol spotted wanted man Kwame Pindleton and three others in a white car at the corner of Vlissengen Road and Barr Street, Kitty, Georgetown. Stabroek News understands that the gunmen opened fire on the police and sped off with the cops in hot pursuit.
The high-speed chase through several streets in Kitty paused for about two minutes on Middleton Street, Campbellville, when the gunmen swapped vehicles.
The second car was hijacked, Acting Commissioner of Police, Floyd McDonald, said at a press conference yesterday afternoon to report on the clash. The car belongs to Compton Semple, of Campbellville. Semple sustained a flesh wound to his right thigh in the ensuing fracas.
According to McDonald, the gunmen discharged several shots at a cyclist as they turned into Middleton Street, from Drury Lane, causing the man to fall off his cycle. He further said that due to the presence of schoolchildren and other passersby, the police were prevented from returning fire.
One eyewitness told this newspaper he saw a white taxicab speeding south along Middleton Street, from the direction of Dennis Street. The man said the gunmen stopped their vehicle just over Garnett Street and entered another car.
"They [the gunmen] were firing whilst driving... They had a next car down deh waiting fuh them, so they just exchange car and go away and leave the other one.
They just keep firing fuh keep the police off the scene and drive away."
During that exchange, Constable Pareshram Khali, 25, of Impact Base, was injured. He was taken to a city hospital, treated and sent away.
From Middleton Street, the gunmen sped east along Duncan Street, turning south on to Sheriff Street, which continues on Mandela Avenue. It was at the junction of Mandela and Homestretch avenues, outside the Chinese Embassy, that the second shoot-out occurred.
This time, four men emerged from the white car and approached a metallic grey Prado vehicle. Eyewitnesses said one of the gunmen opened fire on the vehicle. Shelly Morgan, the wife of auto dealer, Peter Morgan, and a child were in the Prado at the time. They were later rushed to a city hospital. The woman was said to be in a stable condition.
But in a shocking twist, a relative of the woman, who had gone to the hospital to see her, was arrested after a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and seven live rounds, along with a dreadlocks wig and a bullet-proof vest were found in his car, McDonald told reporters.
The top cop said acting upon a tip off, the police searched the manís car and found the items, as well as ten spent shells and one live round for an AK 47 assault rifle.
Another eyewitness at the Mandela Avenue scene told this newspaper: "We were coming when we hear an impact. After the impact, when we look up, we see like smoke rising up in the air and sounds like firecrackers... I say, `Wait nah, Chinese canít get no sort of celebration.í When we heard the impact, is when they [Morganís wife] reversed the vehicle [in a bid to elude the gunmen] and hit the car behind them. [Then the gunmen] come out and go up to the Prado, around the front, and start shooting."
The man said that the woman immediately pulled out from behind the other vehicles at the traffic light and sped south along Mandela Avenue. The gunmen got back into their car and chased the Prado.
The police were unable to say how the gunmen escaped, but Stabroek News understands that the men drove along Mandela Avenue, through Tucville and into South Ruimveldt before fleeing into the adjoining canefields.
The police erected cordons in and around the city as they intensified the hunt for the bandits. There were police roadblocks at Providence on the East Bank Public Road and Turkeyen on the East Coast Demerara.
The car abandoned by the bandits on Middleton Street has been identified as the one hijacked from Aubrey Samuels on Wednesday night in Fifth Street, Alberttown. But yesterday, the white Toyota Carina registered under PGG 8787, had a false number plate, HA 8561.
McDonald yesterday displayed two other number plates - PGG 9565 and PGG 7565 - which were found in the abandoned car.
Some people expressed concern yesterday at the policeís use of unmarked, tinted vehicles. One of them claimed to have seen the law enforcement officers using a burgundy land cruiser, prompting him to believe, at first, that the men were bandits.
The shoot-out is likely to heighten security concerns as it came just days before a major CARICOM summit is due to open in Georgetown. The opening ceremony for the summit will be held at the National Cultural Centre, a stoneís throw from where the grey Prado was shot up.
Government officials and the police have given assurances that security will be tight and the numerous delegations expected will be well protected.