High voltage drama on UG road
Wanted man, other killed in shootout By Kim Lucas and Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
July 26, 2002

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A man wanted in connection with several murders and another were killed in a shootout with police yesterday morning on the University of Guyana road and weapons and ammunition were found in the car they were travelling in.

Dead are Kwame Pindleton, for whom the police had issued several wanted bulletins, and Leroy Lowe of Buxton, East Coast Demerara. Lowe, a former member of the Guyana Police Force, was believed to be the driver of motorcar PEE 1951, in which, the police said, at least two other men were travelling.

It is believed that these men escaped the police dragnet, fled into the Beharry’s Nando Gardens compound at Turkeyen, then scaled a fence into the neighbouring Gafoor’s complex and into nearby bushes.

Shortly after the shootout, Pindleton was observed lying behind the car, with his knees folded under his body. Lowe was on the left shoulder of the road and both men were on their backs, with hands outstretched.

Yesterday’s confrontation with the wanted man was one of the few instances where the police have come out on top. Eight members of the police force have been killed since a frightening crime wave took off at the end of February. On Monday the Berbice town of Rose Hall was pillaged by around 12 gunmen and two policemen and a teenager were shot dead in the two-hour siege.

Caught in the crossfire

At the time of the shootout, 40-year-old Rickford Cozier, of South Ruimveldt, was heading to Ogle and got caught in the crossfire. He was ordered out of his minibus and had to lie under the vehicle for some time. Later, as he spoke to members of the press, Cozier, who was in shock, was crying and shaking uncontrollably.

He explained that he was heading to Ogle, along the Railway Embankment road, when he came upon a roadblock at the University Road, from where police were directing all traffic to turn either left or right. He said he turned left, towards the main road, since he was heading to Ogle. “A couple of yards before the main road, a police just step out and say, `Come out the vehicle with yuh hand up!’ Before I coulda turn off the bus and come out the vehicle, shooting start,” the man narrated. He could not say who fired the first shots.

Kwame Pindleton

“I [was] facing the police and heard gunshots... I didn’t know a car was behind me... I hear shots start firing [and] they [the police], tell me to get under the vehicle and lay down and don’t move. Gunshots ease off for a couple seconds.

Then you see they walking past the vehicle and then gunshots again... almost as much as the first time or more. I just put meh head down on the road and start praying. When I raise up, two men were dead on the road.”

Cozier lay on the road for more than an hour after the shootout.

In a brief release, the police said that at around 1000 hrs, they intercepted motorcar PEE 1951 in the Turkeyen area on the East Coast Demerara, transporting at least four armed men. According to the statement, on seeing the police, the men opened fire and the police responded.

During the exchange of gunfire, the fugitive Pindleton, as well as Lowe were mortally wounded. The police said they recovered a self-loading rifle (SLR), a 9 mm handgun and a quantity of ammunition at the scene.

As the crowd converged, reports began to circulate that two of the bandits were still holed up in the Beharry’s residence. But these reports were later dispelled.

Heavily-armed law enforcement officials had cordoned off the immediate area of the shootout, as well as the community in the vicinity of Turkeyen as a manhunt, also involving tracker dogs, was carried out.

According to reports, the men in the car were on their way up the East Coast and had been travelling along the Railway Embankment when they encountered a police roadblock in the vicinity of Turkeyen. In an attempt to avoid the law enforcement officers, the men turned north onto the Turkeyen Road, heading for the main road.

When they were almost at the Rupert Craig Highway, the men would have encountered the other police barricade and would have realised that they were trapped. A police source yesterday said the roadblocks were put up near 1000 hrs based on information received.

The crime scene

The car in which Pindleton and Lowe were travelling was parked behind Cozier’s minibus following the shooting. At least two hubcaps were blown off the wheels and the car was riddled. Further, both right hand wheels were punctured and the front and rear windshields were shattered. The windshield of police minibus, PGG 8977, was also shattered.

The right side of Pindleton’s head had a gaping hole and its contents were strewn across the roadway. He was clad in a brown and black checkered shirt and a pair of blue three-quarter pants. The dead fugitive still had his blue sunshades perched on his face. He was also decked out with gold rings, a gold band and chain and a watch.

Lowe was dressed in a yellow vest and a torn pair of black track-pants, exposing his striped boxer shorts. He also wore a pair of brown hiking boots.

Both men seemed to have been shot several times.

As the police conducted their investigations, a cellular phone, lying near Lowe, rang. It was immediately retrieved and several policemen crowded around the instrument. They appeared to be writing down the number which showed up for the caller. The phone was subsequently placed on Lowe’s white Nissan Sunny. There, it rang three more times and police are likely to track these numbers. Who the owner of the cell phone is was also being investigated by the police.

At one point, members of the force could be seen lying in the grass, cocked guns trained at the Beharry compound. A vehicle with about seven members of the Target Special Squad arrived on the scene some time after the shooting and quickly proceeded into the compound, after being informed of the possibility of the presence of two other men within.

After about half an hour, the TSS members left the scene.

Other policemen were seen scouring the surrounding areas possible in search for the bandits. Some ranks collected spent shells, while others dusted the inside of car and items that were found in the car for fingerprints. Yet others scrambled in various directions as cordons were thrown up between Industry and Turkeyen on the Embankment Road and the road leading to University Gardens and subsequently the University of Guyana. Several lecturers and students of UG on their way to the campus were left stranded.

Near to where the police had established their roadblock on the main road, was a board with nails that had been placed across the carriageway to prevent cars from running the gauntlet.

A large crowd mostly of curious onlookers gathered at the scene just outside the Beharry’s Nando Gardens complex trying to get a glimpse of the victims and the immediate crime scene.

At one point traffic on the main road came to a standstill as the occupants of minibuses, cars and other vehicles disembarked to observe the proceedings. Many of those in the crowd were heard speculating as to who the two men could be, as angry policemen shouted at them to step back.

At one point a visibly upset senior police officer was overheard telling his men to pack up and leave the scene as persons were crowding it and tampering with evidence.

Not a criminal

Meanwhile, speaking to Stabroek News yesterday evening, brother of Leroy Lowe, Ernest Lowe said that his brother was innocent of any criminal activities.

According to him, Lowe, 42, and a father of ten, had worked at Omai Gold Mines Limited up to about three months ago when he was retrenched and paid off. He said that his brother used that money to purchase his car, PEE 1951, which he worked a ‘special’ hire car.

Lowe lived with his reputed wife, Nicola Abrams, at Lot 41 Ogle Street, Buxton, East Coast Demerara.

Abrams, who has two children for Lowe, said that her husband left their home at around 7:30 a.m. yesterday for work, which he did everyday.

She said she was at home preparing a meal of fish for her husband when a minibus driver, who is known to them, visited her and asked her the number of her husband’s car. When she told him PEE 1951, he told her to visit the University of Guyana road.

The woman said that her initial thought was that her husband had been involved in an accident. But a few minutes later, another friend visited the home and told her that her husband had been shot and killed.

The man’s mother, Sara Dorothy Lowe, said that she was in Georgetown at the time of her son’s death. She said she saw the incident on the television but was not aware it was her son. According to the woman, she was at the Demico car park when she learnt that her son was one of the men who was killed. She described her son as a loving and sympathetic person.

The family said they could only speculate as to how Lowe ended up where he was yesterday. They said the possibility existed that he might have been hijacked by the gunmen and was caught in the crossfire between them and the police.

“We would not be able to say if he was hijacked or if it was a willing act on his part to transport the bandits. He is not here to tell us,” the man’s brother said. He said that he was surprised when he learnt his brother was one of the persons shot and killed by the police. (Additional reporting by Oscar P. Clarke)

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