Widow recounts deadly robbery attack

Guyana Chronicle
January 21, 2003

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SHIREEN Khan, nursing bullet wounds, was yesterday trying to come to grips with the reality that her husband of 14 years, East Coast Demerara businessman, Ralph Bassoo, was no longer alive.

As friends and neighbours were putting up a shed for the wake, she recalled the horror of the daylight Sunday attack in which gunmen cold-bloodedly killed her husband as she watched.

Five heavily armed men, clad in bulletproof vests with 'Police' written on them, attacked the business premises at Lot 22, Better Hope South, where they terrorised the couple in a three minute ordeal before shooting Bassoo twice in the head at pointblank range.

They then fled in a car with a quantity of cash and jewellery.

Recounting the horrifying ordeal yesterday, Khan, 39, said she and her 44-year-old husband were at home at about 14:40 hrs.

The woman, who also sustained gunshot wounds when two bullets grazed her left leg, and was beaten by the bandits, said she was in the shop seconds before the men attacked.

She said she had noticed a dark grey car passing by shortly before but did not pay much attention to it and went inside.

"Immediately after I heard someone knocking at the counter and when I look out there was a man at the counter and he had a gun in his hand...he was looking at the shop and at the front door," the visibly shaken widow recalled.

Realising that it was a bandit, Khan said she dropped to the ground and crawled to a window where her bedroom is situated and tried to wake her husband who was sleeping.

"By the time I was doing that I could hear them opening the bolt on the front (grill) door and by then two men were already in the bedroom with guns," she said.

She said that by this time her husband was awake and the bandits accosted them outside the bedroom.

They herded them into the shop where they started to beat them and demand cash and jewellery and "the gun", she recounted.

Khan said the men were kicking her about the body and her husband asked them why were they still beating her since she had already given them all the money and jewellery.

The traumatised woman said one of the bandits told his accomplice in the shop "to shoot the f...ing man" which he did, at point blank range.

The bandits escaped with about $300,000 in jewellery and about $200,000 in cash, she said.

"I really don't know what to do right now. But I will carry on the business. I have to work, I have my son and we have to eat. It's not fair but that's life", she said.

The businessman's stepson, Christopher, 18, was attending a wedding in Enmore on the lower East Coast Demerara at the time of the attack.

The young man said he was informed about the tragedy by friends who had left Better Hope to go and get him in Enmore.

Christopher said his stepfather, with whom he had lived for some 14 years, was "a very good person...very kind, friendly and willing to assist anyone."

"He never trouble or hurt nobody. If anyone sick or something in the area, no matter if it's 1:00 o'clock in the morning, he is always willing to take them to the hospital," he recalled.

A neighbour said a bullet pierced a zinc sheet on the roof of a house about three yards away from the business place that the bandits attacked.

The neighbour said everything happened in about three minutes.

A witness said there were five bandits - four Afro-Guyanese, including one Rastafarian, and one Indo-Guyanese.

They were all wearing bulletproof vests with 'Police' written on them.

The Police were yesterday continuing investigations into the robbery/killing.

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