Guard dies in raid on drug store
Hijacked taxi used
Stabroek News
August 22, 2002

Related Links: Articles on violent crime
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Three armed men last evening hijacked a taxi in Lodge and half an hour later a security guard was gunned down inside Bhagan’s Drug Store at Camp and Middle streets, Georgetown. Dead is Michael Cumberbatch, a guard with the Professional Guard Service (PGS).

Reports reaching Stabroek News last night state that the drama began to unfold when motorcar, HA 9599 driven by Peter Simon was hijacked by three men at about 7:50 p.m. Simon told the police that he was working at the time and had picked up three men, one of whom wore dreadlocks.

While on Joseph Pollydore Street, between Victor and Chapel streets, the man said, one of his passengers placed a gun to his head and ordered him out of the vehicle. They then drove off with the car.

Then at about 8:30 p.m., the three armed men executed one of the most brazen attacks in the recent crime spree in the city. One of them barged into Bhagan’s Drug Store, shot Cumberbatch in his chest and snatched his firearm. They sped away in a green car.

Cumberbatch, of Sophia Squatting Area, Greater Georgetown, was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

He was said to be in his early thirties and was working the 8 pm to midnight shift. According to reports, the man was shot at point blank range, as he was trying to prevent the bandit from robbing the store.

Another eyewitness told Stabroek News last night that from all indications, the gunman appeared to have deliberately targeted the guard, since the shot he received was intended to kill. The same eyewitness reported seeing two other men in the waiting car.

Last night a small crowd gathered outside the store while detectives, along with workers and the owner of the guard service, were inside. The police were seen taking fingerprints and, also, samples of Cumberbatch’s blood, which was spattered about the area where he had fallen.

Giving an account of the incident, a man who was approaching the store at the time, said he saw a green car with three persons, including a driver, stop in front of the store.

The young man said when the vehicle halted, one of the men, who had dreadlocks, exited the car and entered the store. He saw the man discharge two rounds in the store, shattering a large portion of the western glass wall.

He had a clear view of what was happening inside the store, through the many large glass show windows. He said he saw the dreadlocked man approach Cummerbatch. According to the eyewitness, the attacker appeared to be making demands for the guard’s weapon. He said Cumberbatch resisted and a scuffle between the two men ensued.

In the end, the gunman succeeded in relieving Cumberbatch of his pistol. As he did, the eyewitness said the attacker shot the guard in the region of his heart and quickly left the store.

At the scene of the crime, Managing Director of PGS, Dougal Fitzpatrick, who turned up minutes after the shooting, said he was very disturbed by the incident.

In a brief comment to the media, Fitzpatrick said he was told that a man wearing a dreadlocks wig had entered the store, discharged two rounds and then shot Cumberbatch. He also confirmed that the slain guard had been relieved of his weapon.

Stabroek News observed the mortally wounded guard at the hospital still wearing his uniform. Another guard, who had responded to the shooting, stood beside his stretcher. The bullet hole was evident on Cumberbatch’s shirt.

The incident did not last long, according to the eyewitness, and during the time, there were a few customers along with employees in the store. Several of them had ducked for cover after the bandit fired the two shots. This newspaper was unable to get a comment from the proprietor of the Trinidad and Tobago-based chain store and his employees also declined to speak to the media.

Cumberbatch was the second guard to have been killed this year by bandits in the crime wave which has taken the country by storm. On May 16, Chaitram Etwaru was shot and killed when two men robbed Jairam’s General Store on Saffon Street, Charlestown.