Masked gunmen rob West Ruimveldt family
Guard at nearby school attacked By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
August 15, 2002

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Another America Street money-changer was robbed early yesterday morning, this time by armed marauders who broke into his West Ruimveldt home in Georgetown and carted off in excess of $700,000.

The five armed men, each with a kerchief covering the lower half of the face, also attacked a security guard from a nearby school, in a bid to secure more weapons. This was after they had left the home of money-changer Cecil Payne at 75 West Ruimveldt.

Payne's niece, Sabrina Quallis told Stabroek News yesterday that the masked assailants struck at around 2.10 am. She awoke and found her husband, Eldon, trying to prevent one of the intruders from entering their bedroom.

"When I wake up, he [Eldon] was pushing the door and they [the bandits] were kicking the door in," recounted the 31-year-old mother of three.

According to Mrs. Quallis, one of the gunmen succeeded in barging into the room and commanded them not to move. She said by that time, her uncle had already been robbed.

In the midst of recounting the ordeal to this newspaper, a woman from the Guyana Water Inc turned up to disconnect the water supply to the house. She came face to face with an already incensed Tyrone Payne, Mrs. Quallis' brother.

"People come in we house and stick we up last night and carry away all we money...We ain't got no money fo pay water. When we call for de police, de police can't come, but they come fo cut off we water," the man said with disgust. The woman backed off.

Mrs. Quallis surmised that at least one of the bandits entered the house by removing the wooden louvre panes from one of the windows on the ground floor, then opened the front door for the others.

She told Stabroek News: "They come and take off my husband chain that had 70 pennyweight. After the one come in and he take the chain, I hear he come out and [ask the other one], `You get the money, you get the money?' I ain't hear nothing more. Afterwards, we hear the shots in the air and that is when they left the house."

The woman said she saw four armed men in the house during the 10-minute ordeal, but was subsequently told that there was a fifth, standing guard on the street.

According to her, the men had apparently jumped over her 10-year-old son, who was asleep outside the bedrooms, to get to the other sleeping occupants.

Upon hearing the noise, the child kept his eyes closed and pretended to be asleep. But the gunshots jolted awake the Quallis' four-year-old daughter. The frightened child clamped her hands over her ears and tried to dash from the bedroom she was sharing with her older sister. It was her sibling who held her back and offered comfort. Fortunately, the bandits never entered the children's bedroom.

After the men left, the family called Impact Base at Brickdam and reported the crime.

"When me uncle call Impact Base, the woman [who answered the phone] said, `West? Duh place dark!'," Mrs. Quallis claimed. The police turned up some time later.

But even after the bandits left the house, the ordeal was not over for the family. Mrs. Quallis' brother, Tyrone Payne told Stabroek News that after the attack, he went a short distance to his girlfriend's house to tell her what had transpired, when he saw the security guard at Ascension Community High School being attacked.

"I see one man lying down pon de ground and a tall man deh over he, kicking he. The man kicking he and asking, `Whey de gun deh, buddy? I want yuh gun, I want yuh gun!' This is after, because I left here to go and tell me `children mother' that they just now rob we. When I left here and I go 'round suh, that is what we meet up with," the man said.

At the school yesterday, carpenters were in the process of completing a new guard hut. The school's headmistress yesterday confirmed that the guard was severely beaten, but that the assailants did not break into the building or steal anything. The guard was not armed.

Payne said around the same time the guard was being attack, an alarm went off and several people started shouting. But residents in the vicinity of the school said it was a car alarm that went off.

"We turn off all the lights, 'cause we say like these people robbing the whole place, like they robbing everybody through the street or something," Tyrone Payne stated.

Exactly one month ago, armed bandits held up and robbed a group of money-changers on America Street in the city. The businessmen were made to lie face down on the concrete pavement, while their attackers fleeced them of both local and foreign currencies.

During recent attacks, bandits have also been seizing guns from guards.