City businesswoman, Nanda Sawh, barely escaped yesterday from the clutches of two kidnappers one of whom was later shot dead by guards of a private security firm.
Dead is Terrence McCloud, 25, of Garnett Street, Campbellville who was hit in the chest during a confrontation with members of the security firm.
The security firm had arrived on the scene of the Sheriff Street incident and was fired upon by the men. But the officers pursued the kidnappers through several streets in the Campbellville neighbourhood cornering them in a yard in Kitty.
McCloud was immediately taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he later died. His accomplice escaped.
The police yesterday said that three wristwatches, two gold rings and $2000 suspected to have been stolen from the victims in the boutique were found on McCloud.
The police also said that a member of the security patrol sustained gunshot injuries to his right arm while pursuing the kidnappers and he is said to be in stable condition.
Police who by then had arrived on the scene were later seen searching several yards including a heavily grassed alleyway behind the Kitty building.
They later departed apparently coming up empty-handed.
By this time 23-year-old Sawh of Nanda’s Elegant Styles and Boutique on Sheriff and John Streets, Campbellville, was being consoled by relatives minutes after managing to flee from the two men who had earlier bundled her into a car at gunpoint. According to reports the men, both armed with revolvers, entered the Sheriff and John Streets store shortly after 9 am posing as customers.
The pretence was however short-lived as Sawh, in attempting to help them, was confronted with guns and was ordered to remain silent.
The unmasked men took out a roll of masking tape with which they began binding Sawh’s hands.
Sawh, exhibiting a bump on her forehead from being hit with a gun, later told reporters that the men had pulled the weapons from their waist after she had inquired whether they needed any assistance.
After securing her hands one of the men left the store telling the other that he was off to get a car to take her away.
He returned to tell his accomplice that the taxi operator did not want to participate in the scheme and they then decided that it would be better to stop a car outside the store.
It was during this discussion that Sawh recalled making an attempt to flee resulting in the gunmen hitting her with the gun.
They also decided to bind her hands with the telephone cord as she had managed to loosen the masking tape.
As they contemplated their next move, one of Sawh’s employees, Christine Chin, arrived for work only to be greeted by the gunmen.
After reluctantly deciding to open the locked door for Chin, the men immediately ordered her to kneel next to a showcase and remain silent. She complied immediately as one of the gunmen had threatened to harm her boss.
A short while later a taxi, dropping off Sawh’s sister-in-law, stopped outside and the two men hustled Sawh into it.
One entered the front passenger seat while the other sat with Sawh in the back holding her down with his gun pointed to her head.
One gunman placed a gun to the driver’s head ordering him to drive but instead he opened his door and leapt from the vehicle.
Panic then overcame the men as one ordered the other to slide over and drive the car.
After repeatedly urging him to place the gear stick in `D’ (drive) to no avail, the gunman from the back seat told his colleague to exchange places with him so that he could drive.
It was while they were attempting to switch places that Sawh seized the moment to escape.
Despite her hands being bound she managed to open the car door and leapt from the vehicle. Without even bothering to check the traffic she ran across the road to seek refuge. During her desperate bid she was almost struck by an oncoming motor car which braked hard to avoid hitting her.
According to the still shocked woman, she had been puzzled by the men’s actions ever since they had entered the store and was not surprised when they pounced on her. She said one of the men, in order to obtain her co-operation, had even opened the barrel of his weapon to show her that it was loaded.
Sawh said that she did not feel encouraged to continue in business since it was the second time that someone in her family had been targeted.
She recalled the kidnapping of her uncle Kamal Seebarran in October during a similar early morning episode at his Sheriff Street auto dealership.
A substantial ransom was later paid to secure his freedom. According to the young woman her uncle had cautioned her to be careful. The vehicle into which the gunmen placed her was one in which her sister-in-law had moments before arrived in.
The sister-in-law told reporters that she had hired the car on Camp Street.
Employees, during a search of the store, discovered that the men had ransacked Sawh’s handbag and had escaped with several items of jewellery including her diamond ring.
Other employees, including the victim’s bodyguard, later arrived and were seen mingling in the store.
Children from the Emmanuel Educational Complex located in the upper flat of the Sheriff and John Streets premises were seen peering from windows as the police and onlookers gathered at the scene.
Meanwhile relatives of McCloud who had gone to the hospital on receiving news of the shooting, told reporters that he had been employed as a carpenter and was a father of two, a boy, 6, and a girl, 1.
According to Sawh it was clear the motive of the men was to hold her for ransom since they had several opportunities to harm her when she first attempted to escape. She credited the fact that the men could not drive as the main reason for her managing to escape.
There has been a spate of kidnappings recently where ransom has been paid. The latest case was the abduction of US diplomat Stephen Lesniak on Saturday for whose release ransom was paid by friends. Observers say that the willingness to pay ransom coupled with the seeming inability of the police and army to do anything about it is fuelling the current wave of kidnappings.