Arsonists torch rural constable’s vehicle
Robbers of mini-bus passengers suspected
By Kim Lucas
August 6, 2002
Four masked gunmen early yesterday morning torched a Pathfinder vehicle in front of a body shop at McDoom, East Bank Demerara and fired several shots before fleeing the scene.
The vehicle, PFF 9090, which belonged to Ray Anthony Rutherford, popularly known as `Tony’, was frequently used by members of the Guyana Police Force during patrols. It was set on fire at about 3.20 a.m. while parked in front of Rutherford’s body shop at 22 Public Road, McDoom.
When Stabroek News visited the scene yesterday, the police had already carted away a four-gallon gasoline pail the arsonists left behind, and a crew from the Guyana Power and Light Company was working on the damaged wires.
One of Rutherford’s employees, Leonard Persaud, told this newspaper that he and another colleague were working inside of the 24-hour service station when the men launched the attack.
“I was patching a tube in here and I hear a sound outside. So I leave and go outside to see if somebody come for air or something.
“When I come out, I see a guy with a mask. I ask he, `Whuh you doing here?’ He say, `Shut yuh mouth’ and he pull out a gun and fire a shot,” Persaud recounted.
Apparently the bullet was not intended for Persaud and he could not say in which direction the masked man fired.
He continued: “They had a next one throwing gasoline on de vehicle...a tall one. The two of them run, they jump in de car, fire two more shots and they drive away.”
Persaud said he observed four figures in the white `Sprinter’ car the men used in their escape. Just about an hour earlier, Rutherford, a rural constable, had retired to bed, leaving his employees to finish off their work. He was subsequently roused by the sounds of gunshots and Persaud’s shout.
Asked what could have been a possible motive for the attack, the businessman opined that it might have been because he and the police are working at reducing the current crime spree.
“I am a RC (Rural Constable) and, with the police, we just patrol the road and keep all the bandits off the road...Is just because we slowing down the thieves and the crime on the road, they just mean to target me,” Rutherford stated.
He estimated his losses to be about $11M. Several truck tyres, belonging to customers, were in front of the building and got damaged in the blaze. Rutherford could not conduct business yesterday.
He said that the police suspect a group of men from the nearby ward of Agricola who were fingered in the Emancipation Day shooting of a mini-bus driver.
Last Thursday, mini-bus driver Shawn Thomas was shot in his chest by one of two armed men who had joined his bus as passengers. According to reports, the men joined the Route 42 (Georgetown/Timehri) minibus, BHH 6039, at the East Bank car park and when in the vicinity of Middle Street, McDoom, came out and held up the other passengers.
After committing the robbery, the perpetrators fled into McDoom. Rutherford said since Thursday, the police were hunting for the men. Their names and addresses are known and, according to the businessman, the police have visited the suspects’ homes, but were unable to find them.
Several years ago, after one general election, another vehicle of Rutherford’s was almost torched. On that occasion, though, a passing security patrol extinguished the blaze.