Police find ammo, two grenades in Friendship house
Medical supplies also unearthed

Stabroek News
November 8, 2002

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Police raided an unoccupied house in Friendship Village, East Coast Demerara yesterday and found two grenades, one pistol, a quantity of ammunition and some medical supplies.

Shortly before the operation, which was part of a search for wanted men, a grenade was thrown at one of the police vehicles but no one was injured Residents told Stabroek News yesterday that around 11 am yesterday two pick-up trucks along with two other vehicles descended on the two houses at Lots 73 and 74 Friendship South. Stabroek News understands that after conducting their search the police ranks discharged some five live rounds in the air before leaving.

The police in a press release yesterday said that a fragmentation grenade was thrown at one of the police vehicles upon its entrance into the village.

The police for several months had not ventured into the neighbouring village of Buxton but over the last month they have been patrolling south of the village in the vicinity of Brusche Dam under an army escort. But yesterday the police ranks were not escorted by the army which only turned up at Friendship one hour after the raid.

The police release said the vehicle was parked on a street and the ranks were engaged in the search of a house a short distance away when the grenade was thrown. The grenade according to the police exploded but the vehicle was not damaged neither was any rank injured.

In addition, the release stated that during a search of the unoccupied house a quantity of ammunition and medical supplies were found.

The release said the discovery indicates that injured persons had been in the house. In recent shooting incidents, several men have been badly injured. However no one was arrested.

When Stabroek News visited Friendship yesterday the village was in confusion. Residents near the two homes that were raided were furious.

"I don't know wah deh come hey fah," one female resident said.

A large crowd with several women had converged in front of the unoccupied house. Some residents said no one had occupied the house but this was contradicted by another who said he had seen persons visiting the house in the past, though he had no idea as to why they were there. In the ongoing crime spree, Friendship and the neighbouring village of Buxton have been accused of harbouring criminals.

The police yesterday said they were searching for the February 23 escapees and had visited the house based upon a tip off.

Owner of Lot 74, Harolyne Nero, told this newspaper that ever since the crime wave erupted and criminals have been reported hiding in Buxton/Friendship, her house has always been raided. She said she pays strict attention to what goes on in her house and could not say what went on in the unoccupied house next door to her. Stabroek News understands also that some young men in the village had frequented the building in the past. According to one villager during the day the young men would normally be seen in the yard gambling and engaging in other activities. The villager could not say who were the real occupants of the home, but that he knew that persons stayed there from time to time.

Nero said she and her grandchildren were in their one-flat two- bedroom house at the time of the police raid. She recalled seeing the police searching the house next to her, but was shocked when she saw them coming into her yard.

Nero said one of the officers came into her yard and ordered her and the children to come outside. Nero said her grandchildren were not dressed at the time, but the police officers insisted that they should leave the home.

According to the old woman they quickly obeyed the officers and exited the house, but as she was about to leave, one of the officers told her that if she did not move faster he would shoot her.

Leaving with her grandchildren by her side, Nero went across to her neighbour and observed as the police went into her home. She lamented what she termed as the unprofessional manner in which they acted, saying that they should have at least shown her a search warrant or allowed her to accompany them throughout the search.

Asked to respond to Nero's concern, Assistant Superintendent, David Ramnarine told Stabroek News that the only reason the police might have acted in that manner is because they were on the hunt for dangerous men. He said given the circumstances it was the wise thing for the police to do, adding that they had to ensure that innocent civilians were out of the way.

In previous raids by police there have been armed confrontations with wanted men.

Nero said the officers stayed for a little while in her home after which they discharged about five rounds in the air and left. She said she saw them leaving her yard with some articles in their hands but could not recognise the contents. Ramnarine could not say whether the police had fired any shots in the air, but suggested that given the fact that they were attacked with a grenade the situation may have warranted such action.

Nero's daughter who was not home at the time of the raid, but who came home shortly after, said that the home was badly ransacked. Evidence of this was visible with their clothes baskets thrown on the ground, pieces of clothing scattered on the floor and kitchen utensils and wares strewn on the floor. The family has been living in the area for some 45 years now and said they have always been subjected to police raids. Nero's daughter said she lost her cell phone, a pair of gold earrings, a quantity of sanitary napkins and other valuables.

Leaving the raided homes the police headed for the embankment. While on their way they came upon a man who was riding home on a bicycle with a bag of rice.

Residents said the officers stopped the man and dealt him several blows about his body and continued their journey. The young man was not home at the time of this newspaper's visit, but his mother who preferred to remain anonymous said that her son was indeed kicked. She said she had sent him to buy a bag of rice and while he was returning he was assaulted by the police. She said she treated him with some homemade medicine before advising him to seek medical attention.

When the police ranks got on the embankment, the nursery school which is also located there was in a state of panic as the small children, on hearing the grenade explosion and later the gunshots scampered under their tables and desks for cover.

The headteacher who is also a village leader told Stabroek News that it was around 10:45 am when she and her staff were disturbed by the grenade explosion and then rapid gunfire. She said it has become routine in the area in the recent past. According to the headteacher, whenever that happens parents would hurriedly go to the school and take their children home.

The principal said the police contingent went down to the back of the village. She said by the time the officers returned to the embankment her school was already in confusion. Once on the embankment the police began to adopt defensive modes, but the teachers and students became fearful when they aimed their guns in the direction of the school. She said this caused the children to panic and many of them began to cry aloud. Some of the students were outside at this point. She said the police officers told them to go inside and lie on the floor. Some of the teachers were also told to lie on the floor. Stabroek News understands that the police remained on the embankment for a little while before driving away slowly.

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