Man gunned down while changing car wheel By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
October 19, 2002

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An Alberttown man was shot dead yesterday morning as he changed a wheel on his car.

Claudius Sam also known as ‘Samo’ sustained multiple gunshot wounds in front of his Lot 6 First Street home while he was putting a new wheel on his car, HA 5900. It was the latest in a series of killings by car-borne gunmen.

Stabroek News understands that as the man was lying underneath his vehicle, gunmen in a white car bearing number plate, HA 7020, drove up and fired several shots and sped away leaving the man’s bullet-riddled body in the rain.

He was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) but was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to a police press release the gunmen were driving a car with suspected false number plates. The release said one of the gunmen got out of the vehicle and discharged a hail of bullets at the man.

This newspaper was told that the police removed several 9mm spent shells and 2 .32 spent shells from the scene.

There was a big commotion in the street yesterday as word got around about the man’s death since he was described as a person who was close to most of his neighbours.

Two years ago Sam and another man were freed of the charge of murdering cambio dealer Neville Sarjoo on May 30, 1998.

Many felt that Sam, who has had several brushes with the law but was never convicted of an offence, knew the men who shot him. One eyewitness report said that one of the gunmen hailed Sam by his call name.

According to the account the man stepped out of the car with the gun and said “Samo wah happen?” but because the man was underneath the car he was not able to see the gun and he responded. It was said that after Sam spoke the trigger man apparently became nervous and the gun dropped out of his hand prompting the driver of the car to get out, pick up the gun and shoot. But from the spent shells removed by the police it appears that more than one gun was used to commit the homicide. Other residents in the area recalled that the men and Sam exchanged words before he was shot. According to one report one of the men asked Sam for money he owed them.

One resident recalled that only a few minutes before Sam had visited her home to borrow a lug wrench to change his car wheel. When Stabroek News visited the scene there was blood on the road where the man was shot, a towel and a pair of slippers which he might have been wearing prior to his death.

His relatives said that he had used the towel to cover his head as he left his home in the drizzle.

At his home relatives and friends were wondering why he was so brutally gunned down. Sam’s reputed wife, Melanie said the man had only left his home a short while ago when she heard the gunfire. She said her husband was the first person that ran through her mind even as she closed her door for fear that the gunmen might have entered the yard. It was shortly after she saw his bullet- riddled body.

“No matter how bad dey seh he de bad, he was good to me and I gah fo tek on he death,” the woman lamented.

Sam was the fourth person to be shot dead in the space of two days. On Wednesday evening 29-year-old Orin Shultz and Gladwin Fecker were gunned down on Durban St. Later that evening, Albert Crandon was shot dead outside of Buxton.

Sam was freed in December 2000 for the murder of Sarjoo. The judge had ordered the 12-member jury to return a not guilty verdict as he had had a serious problem with the identification and fingerprint evidence, the only two pieces of evidence presented by the state. Sam was charged with the murder after a fingerprint reportedly found in the car used to commit the murder/robbery was linked to him.

After being released from jail Sam was picked up by the police in June of last year in connection with a robbery at Linden but was released four days later by an order from Justice Claudette La Bennett after his attorney had filed a habeas corpus writ.

Prior to these two incidents the man was also held by the police in connection with another murder committed in 1996 and a robbery committed some time after, but was released without being charged.