Large gang fires on Vigilance Police station
Soldiers shoot gunman By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
September 27, 2002

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A large gang launched an attack on Vigilance Police Station last night. And half an hour later, a group of men opened fire on an army patrol at Company Road and the railway embankment at Buxton, forcing the soldiers to return fire.

Well-informed sources last night told Stabroek News that one of the attackers was wounded and was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Reports state that the army intercepted a car carrying the shot man to the hospital. That car was taken to the Vigilance Police Station. Last night's incident marked the third occasion members of the Guyana Defence Force were fired upon since Operation Tourniquet was launched in May.

At about 7:30 pm a band of about 20 to 25 people approached the Vigilance Police Station and fired shots at the police. The attackers were subsequently forced to disperse after police ranks returned fire.

The police, in a release last night said: "gunmen opened fire at Vigilance Police Station from a lot obliquely opposite the station, and north of the station. The police returned fire and the exchange lasted between five and ten minutes, after which the gunmen withdrew. The Guyana Defence Force came to the assistance of the police. No rank was injured."

Last night's attack came in the wake of another shooting incident in the nearby troubled village of Buxton earlier in the evening and the armed robbery of a general store at Non Pariel, another East Coast Demerara village, at noon.

Stabroek News understands that the first shooting took place at around 11:30 am yesterday, when three men, pretending to be customers, walked into Lakhram's General Store at Non Pariel and robbed the cashier at gunpoint of a quantity of cash. Two customers who were in the store at the time were stripped of their valuables.

One of the store's employees told this newspaper that the men entered the store and first enquired about the prices of certain items.

"One stand up at the front, one went to the back and one stand up opposite the cashier. He tell the girl [the cashier] to hand over all the money. One lashed the girl in she head...When they ask she for the money, she say deh ain't got money.

They tek the gun and point it in she face...She went nervous all the time," the young man recounted. He said the bandits spent about three minutes in the store, before they left firing two shots in the air.

The store's owner could not estimate the amount of cash stolen, since, according to him, the register contained part of the sales from the day before.

"We clear the register around 4:00 pm every day, so they [the bandits] took whatever we sold from after four yesterday [Wednesday]. We ain't check nothing, because when we [went to the store], the way how the workers [were affected] I just decide to close down and send every body home," the businessman said.

The employees said the unmasked attackers each carried a handgun.

During the robbery, one of the store's guards set off the alarm, but when neighbours peered out, they saw a guard standing outside as if nothing was wrong. What they did not know was that one of the bandits had a gun trained on the guard, from within the store.

But the other guard, a woman, managed to flee through the rear entrance of the store, triggering the alarm in the process. Yesterday's attack was the second to have occurred in the same village in less than 24 hours.

On Wednesday, at about 12:15 pm, a man armed with a gun went into a home at Section 'B' Non Pariel and terrorised a housewife who was home alone at the time.

The woman, 25-year-old Nazilla Sukram, known as 'Suzie', told this newspaper that she had just returned home from her children's school and rushed into the house to use the bathroom, leaving the front door to her house open.

"By time then, me hear footsteps and me thought was me husband. But when me come outside, wasn't me husband. It was a guy with a small black gun and he tek out de gun and he put it to meh head and he say, 'Don't holler!' and me couldn't holler," the woman narrated.

She said the man forced her into one of the bedrooms, demanding cash.

"He see de wardrobe and start tumble de wardrobe and start knock up meh head. He ask for de money and me seh me ain't got no money...and he start tumble de house for de money. When he done, he take out a 'Rambo' knife from he waist."

According to the young housewife, her attacker attempted to stab her with the knife, but missed and shattered the mirror of the wardrobe. She said it was at that point that she became really afraid and disclosed that her cash was stashed in the altar.

"When he chop it [the wardrobe], me get frighten and seh de money deh a me altar and me go by de altar and me tek out de money. Me had $25,000 deh and he tek it with me married ring. When he done, he compel me now to open de back door, 'cause de backdoor grill up and me tell he me ain't opening de back door."

The woman explained that she had wanted the thief to emerge through the front door so that her neighbours could see him when she raised an alarm. But the bandit insisted on going through the rear entrance, threatening once again to kill her.

"He say if me ain't open de back door, he gun kill me and then he pull out back de 'Rambo' knife and juk meh in meh belly and meh jersey tear and me pull back, so nothing ain't happen to meh."

She eventually opened the back door and the bandit jumped the fence, on to the railway embankment, picked up his bicycle from where he had left it and rode off with two accomplices, whom residents surmised, had acted as lookouts.

Stabroek News observed a joint army/police patrol in the area yesterday, which residents say, visits at half hour intervals.