One still critical
Gajraj says police resolve will be fortified
By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
January 5, 2003

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Rural Constable Phillip Knights, one of four persons wounded in an attack on the East Ruimveldt Police Outpost on Friday night, remained in critical condition at a city hospital yesterday.

The 36-year-old father of seven was shot at least four times in his chest, head and hand when a carload of gunmen laid siege to the outpost in East Ruimveldt, Georgetown. It was the fifth attack on a police station since the eruption of the crime spree early last year, and the third targeting members of the force in as many days.

Such attacks, Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj said yesterday, would only fortify the resolve of members of the Guyana Police Force as they combated notorious criminals.

In the wake of the shooting, work has begun on erecting a concrete fence around the tiny wooden outpost. The same exercise was observed at the Alberttown Police Station, which was attacked in similar fashion on May 30, last year, causing the death of rural constable, Andy Atwell.

Others wounded in Friday night's shooting incident were 15-year-old Sefton Nedd, 22-year-old Simon Andrews and 32-year-old Colin Yarris. They were yesterday listed in stable condition.

Meanwhile, the ranks who were on duty inside the outpost, managed to escape the fusillade and were not physically harmed, a release from Police Headquarters, Eve Leary said.

The police said, too, that they had recovered 11 9mm spent shells and four warheads from the scene of Friday night's shooting.

Gajraj, in his release yesterday, said he had hoped things would have been better with the start of the new year. Instead, two young policemen had been brutally slain on the first two days. This prompted members of the force's Tactical Services Unit to call for firearms while off-duty. The force has not yet stated the outcome of those discussions. But Stabroek News understands that the ranks who are involved directly with fighting crime might be allowed to carry arms on a 24-hour basis.

"The slaying of our police ranks and a violent assault on the East Ruimveldt Police Outpost during the past three days, again highlight the dangers our law enforcers face, on and off duty. That there was no encounter or even an exchange of fire when these two young policemen [Constables Mark Latour and Rayon Anthony Roberts] were murdered indicates the selective cold blooded targeting of dedicated, brave members of the Guyana Police Force," the Home Affairs Minister stated.

He said these latest killings and Friday night's attack on the police outpost were part of a campaign intended to intimidate and demoralise the members of the Guyana Police Force.

Reports reaching Stabroek News state that at about 7:45 pm on Friday, a grey Marino car pulled up in front of the outpost and opened fire on the ranks there.

Knights's sister, Sharon Harding, told this newspaper yesterday that her brother was standing in front of the outpost at the time the attack was launched. The teenager was apparently speaking to the constable at the time.

After he was shot, Knights reportedly ran east and collapsed in front of a bicycle repair shop. The gunmen escaped.

Minister Gajraj yesterday reiterated President Bharrat Jagdeo's warning to criminals in his New Year's address to the nation. The President, in acknowledging the courage and dedication of members of the law enforcement agencies, said they deserved full support.

The Head of State also stated that as a society, we must collectively condemn the slaying of law officers and the terrorising of innocent citizens. The criminals, he said, must know that there will be no safe-havens. The President also pledged that no resource of the state would be spared in bringing them to justice.

Reinforcing President Jagdeo's statement, Gajraj said "these brutal, murderous acts must only fortify the resolve of our police ranks as they combat the notorious criminals. Those who seek to criminalise our society by targeting our lawmen and terrorising innocent citizens, must know that the efforts of our law enforcement agencies to take the necessary measures and initiatives to ensure their personal safety and welfare."

Through the release, he also expressed his condolences to the bereaved relatives of Constables Roberts and Latour, and wished those wounded Friday night a smooth and speedy recovery.

"I want to assure every Guyanese that where life, limb and property are threatened that no effort would be spared until the perpetrators are found and brought to justice," the Minister stated.

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