Armed bandits killed in attack on West Ruimveldt family
By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
December 16, 2002

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THREE armed bandits were shot dead early yesterday morning in a confrontation with Police in West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme, Georgetown, while a fourth escaped with a quantity of firearms.

Police Constable Callender was injured in the shootout after a Police mobile patrol in the area responded to an attack on the Layne family at 555 West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme.

Callender, a member of the Police Quick Response - Anti Crime Unit, was shot in the left upper arm and admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital where his condition was listed as stable.

Unconfirmed reports said one of the dead bandits was Mark Phillips, also known as “Big Battie Mark”, for whom the Police had issued a wanted bulletin last month.

In the bulletin, Police said the 32-year-old of 479 West Ruimveldt Housing Scheme was wanted for murder and a series of robberies and was considered armed and dangerous.

The Police Public Relations Department yesterday afternoon said it was still trying to ascertain the identity of the dead men, who the Chronicle understands were part of a gang of four armed and masked bandits who broke into the home of Leon Layne and family earlier.

The men reportedly fired at least two gunshots at Layne, forcing him and his family to abandon their home and seek refuge at a neighbour.

A Police release said the incident occurred between 03:30 and 06:00 hrs. yesterday when Police responded to "a scene of crime" in the area.

“On arrival at the scene, the ranks were greeted with gunfire,” the release said, reporting that the ranks returned fire and when the confrontation ended, one bandit was discovered fatally shot.

It said later in the morning, about 05:55 hrs., as the Police were continuing investigations at the scene, one of the two bandits who were apparently hiding in a canal aback Layne's house, opened fire on them. The Police subsequently returned fire, mortally wounding both men, the release stated.

A .38 revolver was found in the possession of one of them, it said.

"We are continuing the search for the fourth bandit who, we suspect, escaped with a number of firearms (and) we suspect that this same gang attacked another residence in the area earlier and stole a number of articles," the release reported.

Meanwhile, Leon Layne told the Chronicle that he, his wife June-Ann; his 13-year-old son, Lloyden; and his 79-year-old mother-in-law, Neila Squires, were at home when the armed bandits intruded.

Layne said he heard the dogs barking around 03:00 hrs. yesterday and he got out of bed and peeped through a glass strip on his front door. He said he saw three men at the corner of the street (less than 100 feet away from his home), but didn't take much notice, since he thought they had just left a disco not far away.

Layne said he returned to bed, but shortly after he heard the dogs barking again and he got up a second time and peeped through the glass strip. This time, he saw one of the men jumping over his grill gate.

He said he immediately turned on the lights in the front of the house and started to raise an alarm, but the men still jumped over the fence. They then proceeded to break the glass panes on one of the windows on the one-story (flat) building.

Layne said he armed himself with a cutlass but when the men fired two shots, he immediately backed away and ushered his family out the back door and escaped. He and his wife managed to scale the fence to go over to their neighbour's, while his son and mother-in-law hid behind some flower pots in their yard.

Layne, who bruised his knee while scaling the mesh-fence to escape into his neighbour's premises, said a Police patrol happened to be in the area at that very moment and he called out to them, reporting that the bandits were still in his home.

The Police reacted immediately and back-up patrols arrived on the scene minutes after.

"They didn't get a chance to steal anything 'cause the Police was too prompt," Layne told the Chronicle.

He noted that last Friday he collected two barrels of goodies from a relative living in the United States and he is not sure if that could have been the motive of the attack on his home.

"I jump over dat fence like nothing; I jump it clean...but tell me fu jump it now nah," his wife June-Ann said with a sigh.

Police are continuing investigations.

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