Policeman shot dead in minibus
Another wounded in Festival City ambush
By Samantha Alleyne and Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
January 14, 2003

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Three gunmen on Sunday night shot and killed a police officer while he was on his way to work and later ambushed a police patrol seriously wounding another rank.

Dead is police constable, 1756, Mark Yaw while his colleague, Rampersaud Bickram is in critical condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital nursing a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Bickram is said to have undergone emergency surgery and is now in the Intensive Care Unit. The shootings were the latest salvoes in a stepped up campaign against the police by gunmen.

Yaw, 22, stationed at the Brickdam Police Station, received five gunshots to his neck and died instantly at the corner of Cummings and Croal Street. He was in a minibus on his way to work at the time when the gunmen who had been travelling with him, asked to be put off. According to reports as the men got out they whipped out their guns and fired at the officer, killing him instantly and shooting another passenger in the hip.

The three escaped in a taxi, HA 9220, they had reportedly hijacked shortly after the shooting. The said taxi was discovered by policemen at Flying Fish Street, North Ruimveldt a short distance from where gunmen in a minibus opened fire on the police patrol, hitting Bickram.

Bickram and his Impact Patrol colleagues were responding to a report of a hijacked car being abandoned in Festival City when they came under fire from gunmen said to be hiding in a green minibus with yellow stripes. Police sources say there is no doubt that this was a trap set to attack policemen.

Speaking with Stabroek News, Yaw's sister, Elizabeth, said she was told of her brother's death when a policewoman turned up at the East La Penitence home she shared with her brother. "I hear a rapping at my door and when I get up a girl tell me 'ya brother just get shot in a shoot up in a minibus.'"

The woman related that the family immediately rushed to the Brickdam Police Station where the driver had taken the minibus following the attack.

She said her brother's body was in the back seat slumped over near the right side window.

A statement from the Police Public Relations Department said, "Yaw was fatally shot by one of three bandits while in a minibus on Croal Street, en route to his place of work.

"Reports state that Constable Yaw joined the minibus shortly before midnight on Mandela Avenue and sat on the left [side of the] rear seat." The gunmen were already on the bus when Yaw joined it and concern was being expressed yesterday that they seemed to have been riding on the vehicle waiting for a target to attack.

According to Yaw's sister, her brother, who had celebrated his birthday on January 1st, was now making his way to start work on the 12-8 am shift at the Brickdam Station, where he performed duties at the Inquiries Office. She said he had just been assigned that shift and was late after he had overslept.

Based on reports she received, she said her brother joined the minibus at the junction outside the East La Penitence Police Station and the three men who would carry out the execution were already passengers along with another man.

The police release said the three men had joined the vehicle at Go-Slow and Mandela Avenue and while proceeding west along Croal Street they requested to be put off at Cummings Street.

According to the release, when the minibus stopped, the three men got out, proceeded to the rear of the vehicle and one of them whipped out a firearm and discharged several rounds at Yaw through the left rear window.

A passenger who was sitting to the right of the constable was also injured and later hospitalised.

Yaw's sister believes from the report she received that her brother might not have been the original target of the gunmen. She related that she was told that another police officer was in the bus at the time and when he got off one of the gunmen went to follow him but was called back by his accomplice who told them that Yaw was in the bus.

Neither Yaw nor the other police officer, who the sister said was in the bus, was in uniform.

"The man came off at Lodge head and one of the guys came off behind him, apparently to kill [him]. And the other two said `man come back inside the bus, like you deh pun sc...,'" the sister said adding that she was told that the other man was an officer.

Yaw's sister believes her brother's killers knew him and the act was not random, since at the time of his death Yaw was dressed in civilian clothing and moreover, one of the men yelled out, before the shooting, "look Yaw deh here."

"They knew him... It has to be somebody who knew him."

It was shortly after Yaw was shot that the police at Brickdam received reports about a hijacking in Festival City.

According to the police release, Bickram received gunshot wounds at around 1.20 am when gunmen in a dark-coloured minibus opened fire on a party of policemen investigating the discovery of motorcar HA 9220 at Flying Fish Street, North Ruimveldt.

The release said the police party was at the scene where the hijacked car was discovered when the minibus was observed parked at the exit of Festival City Street.

The ranks, the release said, proceeded cautiously in an effort to make inquiries when the bus suddenly drove off and the occupants discharged a hail of bullets in the direction of the patrol, during which time Bickram was hit.

The ranks took cover and returned fire but the bus sped away.

Residents in the area recalled that they heard a hail of gunfire and most of them hit the floor.

The residents said it was after the shootings had stopped that they looked through their windows and saw a number of policemen. The residents recalled seeing the car with the number HA 9220 shortly before the shooting but could not say who had parked it there.

One resident recalled seeing a police vehicle jammed up against a fence after the gunfire died down. It was later removed and the police returned early yesterday morning and picked up a number of spent shells from the road.

One resident told this newspaper that he was on his way home with a number of friends just after the shooting when the taxi he was in was stopped by the police officers. He said that they were ordered out of the vehicle and were placed to lie on the street before being sent away.

Yaw's sister could not think of a reason why someone would want to kill her brother who according to his family was a quiet and friendly person. But she recalled that he did have an altercation last month with a man over $20. She said the other person pulled out a hockey stick and went to hit him. But he struck him first with a piece of wood. The next day, she said, the man, who had walked off seemingly alright was admitted to the hospital. After he was released she said he demanded compensation. But even after the matter was settled, she said, the other man would continually bring up the incident, saying, "Marky lash me, I got to do he something."

The police release said that Yaw was pronounced dead at the hospital while the passenger who received one gunshot wound to his left side above his hip is in a critical condition. The release said Yaw joined the Guyana Police Force on April 17th, 1998.

He leaves to mourn two sisters and three brothers.

Yaw is the sixteenth police officer to be gunned down since April. He is the fourth officer to be killed in January, by far the highest in a month since the crime wave erupted in February last year.

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