Gunmen open fire on prison, officers' club
September 27, 2002
Six persons were injured last night following a drive-by shooting on the Georgetown Prison Sports club. This was the second such attack in two days.
An eyewitness said that around 8:00 pm six men in a black car drove up on Camp Street between the prison and the sports club, and began spraying the building with gunfire. When the shooting came to a halt, Superintendent of Prisons Maurice Greene was discovered with wounds along with 52-year-old Lloyd Bruce, an ex-prison officer of Vryhied's Lust, East Coast Demerara who sustained injuries to his left hand. Mohammed Alli, 25, a prisoner also was shot in his leg and had a graze on the shoulder. Audwyn Alfred, 34, and Simeon Marc, 36, were shot in the back and in the upper right chest respectively. A pedestrian, Karen Sobers, who was on her way to her Bent Street home was caught in the crossfire and she too was shot twice, on her upper back and shoulder.
When Stabroek News arrived on the scene some seven minutes after the shooting only three residents of the area along and two prisoner officers armed with guns could be seen. Those in the sports club were still taking cover as no one knew exactly in which direction the gunmen had gone. A few minutes after this newspaper's arrival there was another burst of gunfire sending the few persons there scurrying for cover. However, no one knew where the last rounds of gunfire emanated from. During this same period a few prison officers came out of the sports club and began to call for Colin Howard who was there at the time. "Wheh Mister Howard deh, like deh gan with he?" some of them asked fearing he had been kidnapped. It was later discovered that Howard after being confronted by the gunmen scaled the prison fence in his bid to escape and sought cover in a nearby home. The officer was later seen with his pants drenched with mud from the knee down along with his sandals. There was a small bump on his forehead.
In a press release issued late last evening, the Guyana Police Force said that at about 8.05 pm gunmen opened fire on the Prison Officer's Sports Club on Camp Street and the prison itself, leaving six persons with gunshot wounds. According to the release it is alleged that the gunmen drove up in a dark coloured car, two of them ran up the steps of the sports club and fired several shots at the officers and while making their escape they fired several shots at the prison.
The drama began to unfold, according to one officer, when the car slowly approached the sports club and the occupants started to fire. "All I hear was shots all the time from since before the men reach the gate."
The officer recounted that when the car arrived at the gate the six men got out of the car and one of them who was slimly built entered the building. According to the officer, he and a prisoner were outside painting the sports club's fence, while there was another group upstairs painting the interior of the building. Howard, a few officers and friends were playing a game of dominoes and drinking in the yard. The officer said for a moment he began to panic, but he later threw himself on the floor, pretending to be dead.
He said that Audwyn Alfred, who was still standing, later fell to the ground. At this point, the officer recounted, the gunman went close to the first flight of stairs leading to the upper flat of the sports club and discharged another barrage of shots before exiting the building and returning to the car. But while the officer was lying on the ground the other gunmen who remained outside the sports club's gate continued to fire shots. At that time Bruce was hit as well as Sobers, who was passing on the street.
The officer said that the rate at which the gunmen were discharging the shots caused the men at the drinking table to "run helter skelter, hitting themselves into the chairs and tables and also upturning them as they sought cover." Stabroek News also observed small pools of blood and spent shells where the men had been playing. The wall in that area was bullet-ridden and pieces of glass from the windows were also seen on the ground. Across at the prison there were several bullet holes in the aluminium fence and in a portion of the office on the upper flat.
Outside the gate on the pavement there were bloodstains from the injured and several spent shells were also recovered from the scene.
One of the injured Simeon Marc told this newspaper at the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he and the others were taken for treatment, that he and two other inmates were in the front dormitory sitting on a bed. He heard a hail of gunfire from outside, which sounded very close. He was hit during the period when the gunmen turned their attention on the prison. He said he then heard a second hail, this time further away while he and the other inmates took to the floor for cover. The shots rang out nearer and while he kept low he felt a burning sensation in his chest and saw that he was already bleeding.
Meanwhile, after it became clear that the gunmen had left, confusion mounted. Two prison officers stood unprotected outside the prison gate with the prison's alarm turned on and a huge crowd began to congregate. Some 15 minutes later armed ranks from the Brickdam Impact base arrived on the scene followed by Members of the Target Special Squad. These two units cordoned off a large section in front of the prison and adopted defensive positions. There were a few exchanges between them and the onlookers but they managed to control the crowd. An enthusiastic police officer was about to enter into the crowd but was cautioned by one of his colleagues. By now, relatives of Howard arrived on the scene, having heard initial reports that he had been kidnapped. Greene's son later arrived and was heard weeping aloud and calling for "Daddy! Daddy!" Officers inside the sports club heard the crying and before long Greene appeared and reassured his son.
Up to late last evening officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were conducting intensive investigations.