Taxi hijacked, another flees By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
August 17, 2002

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Police were kept busy last night as reports of gunmen and carjackings sent them scurrying to several locations in South Georgetown and on the East Bank.

Police first descended on the South Ruimveldt community of Sunflower Close as a group of armed men attempted to hijack an off-duty taxi driver as he returned home with his children.

Following that incident, the police's attention was directed to Eccles, East Bank Demerara where a suspicious looking white car was parked close to a bridge on Old Road, Eccles.

On both occasions the cops left empty-handed as the gunmen managed to remain a step ahead of them.

At Sunflower Close police cordoned off the area preventing residents from reaching their homes as they carried out a house- to-house search for the gunmen. During this search officers stood with guns at the ready in preparation for any eventuality.

Shortly before, residents on Caneview Avenue between Fern Drive and Bluesaki Drive had reported hearing several bursts of gunfire as two vehicles headed down the street.

Reports suggested that the vehicle being used by the gunmen suffered a flat tyre when it attempted to commandeer Raymond Mohamed and his hire car HA 4838 as he was about to park his vehicle. He however managed to evade the men when their attention was caught by an approaching light. He immediately headed to the East La Penitence police station where a report was made.

When Stabroek News arrived on the scene, police who had gotten there a short while before were taking up positions at key areas in the neighbourhood.

This reporter while standing in front of one of the houses stumbled upon a loaded magazine and the police were alerted. It was later acknowledged as being a police magazine which had dropped from a weapon.

At Eccles, police descended on a First Choice taxi HA 9963 parked next to a dark bridge on Old Road. They apparently opened fire on the vehicle damaging both its front and rear windshields.

In the process some homes along the street came under gunfire causing damage to windows and wall plaques.

Residents showed Stabroek News evidence of this. According to Yvonne Simpson of Lot 42 Old Road, she was sitting at the front of her home when herself and son were forced to dive to the ground as gunfire erupted. Similarly Waverley Lovell and her grandchildren next door were watching television when a shot penetrated their home. One of the children, Jonell Slayter, received a cut to her right forearm as she took cover on the floor. A bullet passed close to the chair where Lovell had been sitting a short while before leaving to visit the toilet.

The clock in the home which was hit remained stuck at 9:30 pm the time at which the attack took place.

Eyewitnesses recalled seeing several vehicles with police arrive shortly before the shooting.

They also recalled seeing the shot vehicle passing earlier in the night with several persons aboard. They said it was abandoned by the bridge when a minibus drove up and the occupants boarded. One even recalled seeing the car parked at the very area when he arrived home shortly before 9 pm.

Driver of the First Choice taxi, Joseph Alexander who managed to escape the clutches of the gunmen, fled to the Providence Police Station where he alerted police about his misfortune.

According to Alexander, he was dropping off a customer on Howes Street, Charlestown when five armed men pounced and forced him into the back seat. Pointing guns at him and saying "this is how we do it", they demanded that he leave the driver's seat and enter the rear.

They immediately headed up the EBD where after stopping at a fuel station to obtain gas they drove into Agricola before heading further up the East Bank.

It was while they stopped at a Providence gas station that Alexander who by now was in the truck bound by a seat belt managed to escape.