Woman slain after shots fired from overtaking car
Three wounded, one critical By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
October 8, 2002

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A 35-year-old woman died after being shot in the head on Sunday night and three others were rushed to the hospital after a drive-by shooting on the Turkeyen Embankment Road.

Dead is Ina Croal Vermeeren, of Lot 7 North Road. Quincy McDonald called `Cayenne' of Charles Street, Charlestown is now a patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Georgetown Public Hospital(GPHC) and is listed in critical condition.

Gary Major also of Charles Street was admitted along with 34-year-old Marci Semple of Evans Street, Charlestown who was shot in her abdomen.

A fourth person, Chute Walker, of Garnett Street Campbellville, who was also in the car at the time of the shooting was treated for lacerations to the face and sent away.

Speaking to Stabroek News from her hospital bed Semple said she and Vermeeren, whom she had known for the last ten years, along with the three other men had travelled to Berbice in search of two motorcycles, which were stolen from McDonald.

Stabroek News understands that the two motorcycles were stolen during the recently held Touch Of Klass (TOK) concert at Thirst Park.

"We were coming from Berbice and when we cross over UG (University of Guyana) road all I heard was like, I think is car wheel puncture, I didn't know it was gunshots. But after, we end up keep getting these gunshots firing all the time," the woman said.

According to her the gunmen were in a dark coloured car and they never slowed down but continued to fire at the vehicle as they overtook them.

She said when the gunshots stopped and the car had come to a halt at the side of the road Vermeeren was dead while McDonald, who was the driver of the car at the time, was slumped over the car wheel.

The woman, who said a bullet also grazed her temple, said she called out for help but no one went to her assistance.

But another car stopped and they were rushed to the public hospital leaving Vermeeren's bullet riddled body in the car with three gunshot wounds to her temple, blowing away the side of her face. Semple could not say yesterday what was the motive behind the shooting.

This was the same question that was troubling the woman's relatives at the Sparendaam Police Station yesterday.

Her husband, who is a Belgian national employed with Boskalis International as a ship captain and has been living in the country for the past sixteen years, said that the last time he saw his wife was 14 days ago when he left for work. He said he spoke to her at around 2 pm on Sunday afternoon but she never indicated that she was in Berbice or that she had travelled to Berbice.

"She did not do anything, those who killed her are just cowards," he said.

A release from the Police Public Relations Office said that the force was investigating the circumstances surrounding a "drive by shooting" at around 20:15 hrs Sunday evening on the Turkeyen Public Road, East Coast Demerara which left Vermeeren dead and four other occupants of motor car, PHH 3694, with gunshot wounds.

The release said an initial report indicated that the deceased and four others were in the said motor car proceeding west along Turkeyen public road when another motor car allegedly drove past firing a hail of bullets at them.

When Stabroek News visited the scene of the shooting yesterday morning residents said there were bullet holes in their homes from the volley of gunshots fired at the motor car. They said they ducked low in their homes as they were afraid of being shot.

Residents said because of the crime wave in the country they all closed their doors and stayed inside even though they overheard a woman calling out for help. The residents said they were afraid for their own safety and only ventured out after the police arrived on the scene. They were of the opinion that the car carrying the gunmen must have been trailing Vermeeren and her friends before striking. They added that the police arrived on the scene soon after the shooting.

The two front wheels of the Toyota Marino were flat while the entire back windscreen had been blown out by the bullets. There was a pool of blood in the driver's seat where the woman might have slumped after being killed and a large bullet hole on the right side front door exposing part of the inner panel. There were several other bullet holes along the right side.

A Banks beer bottle with two glasses along with a motorist's prayer were strewn on the floor. Other articles, including the woman's make-up kit, also lay around.

Investigators were yesterday seen dusting the vehicle for fingerprints and one officer was observed removing a bullet.

Vermereen, who is originally from Linden, moved to the city some sixteen years ago. Her relatives travelled from Linden after receiving the news.

They said a post-mortem is expected to be performed on the body tomorrow and she would be laid to rest in Linden on Sunday. Relatives said the woman would have been wearing a number of jewellery pieces but they have not been able to ascertain their whereabouts along with her handbag.