At Friendship bond...
Six die in shoot-out with police and army
Wanted man Romel Reman among dead
By Kim Lucas
June 5, 2003
Six men, including notorious wanted man Romel Reman, were shot dead early yesterday morning in Friendship after a shoot-out with a police/army contingent which had surrounded an old bond they were hiding in.
A release from the Police Public Relations Office yesterday said that between 5 am and 5.30 am, “the joint forces conducted a cordon and search operation on a house at 163 Friendship Middle Walk, where the police were met by rapid gunfire coming from a bond in the said yard.”
The release said the police “returned fire, which resulted in multiple deaths...two of the six have since been positively identified [as] Romel Sylvester Reman, for whom a wanted bulletin was issued for a series of robberies and murder; and Akeem Hack aka `Chip Teeth’.” Reman was 21 years old and originally from Berbice.
Sources told Stabroek News that a third man “appears to be a Brazilian national.” Up to press time, three of the other four were identified only as `Brazilian Buck’, `Wild Buck’, and `Froggie’ or `Crapaud’.
According to the police, the dead men had in their possession, two assault rifles - an AK-47 and one M70, one `Mosberg’ 12-gauge shotgun with a screw-on rack to store ammunition, 310 rounds of 7.62 x 39 ammunition, 25 12-gauge cartridges, 11 magazines for the rifles, one pair Bushnel night vision goggles, a cellular phone, a pair of handcuffs, a GDF camouflage shirt, two pairs of sneakers, one pair of slippers, two wigs, a tub in which the ammunition was stored, a quantity of clothing, a Holy Bible and a syringe with needle.
Army sources told Stabroek News that at about 4.45 am, the joint forces threw up inner and outer cordons behind Friendship, between Pond Dam and Middle Walk after a tip off that criminals were occupying the bond at nights. The bond turned out to be a broken down wooden shack in the last yard south of Friendship Middle Walk.
“The outer and inner cordons were in position when a Rasta man emerged from the bond. He was arrested, but during his arrest, he managed to make some noise, which alerted the others,” one source told this newspaper.
Sources said after the alarm was raised, the men in the shack attempted to escape by breaking out of the back of the bond, but encountered members of the joint forces.
“While they were breaking out, they started shooting and the inner cordon returned fire killing six men...there is no evidence to suggest that any of them escaped,” a senior Guyana Defence Force (GDF) source said.
A release from the army yesterday said that during the operation, “bandits opened fire on the inner cordon as they tried to escape from the rear of the building. In response, the ranks returned fire injuring the criminals who were at that time using the building as a rest house. A search later revealed one AK-47 and one M70 assault rifles with retractable butts, 11 magazines with matching rounds, one Pump-Action Shotgun, 25 live cartridges, one pair handcuffs, one pair binoculars and one pistol holster.” The army said the shot men were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.
At the time of the shooting, a 69-year-old woman and her two grandchildren were forced to take cover in the home adjacent to the bond.
The woman told this newspaper that she was alerted to activities in her yard at about 5 am.
“I deh in here with my two grandchildren and I hear, `Open! Open! Police...Come out! Come out!’ and I pull that window and I peep. They [the security forces] circle the place and shortly after, I hear they start shoot, `Badam! Badam!’,” the old woman told members of the media.
She said the shooting lasted for a short while, then she opened the door to her cottage and allowed a search to be conducted of her home. The woman maintained that she did not know the persons who were shot, but said that she had “suspected” that the dilapidated storehouse was being occupied at nights.
The woman said after seeing the suspicious movements on Tuesday night, she turned off all her lights and went to bed. She said her granddaughters, aged 10 and 11, were urging her to lock up the house and move to another location.
“But yuh can’t go ‘way and lef yuh house, because them boys when they hear that yuh lef yuh house, they come and kick yuh door and come in yuh house and them gon tek over yuh house. So me seh meh nah go nowhere, me gon stay in here and meh gon lock up and stay in here quiet.”
The wooden shack in which the security forces said the men were sleeping was used by the woman’s son-in-law to store manure and pig feed. There was also a bed frame in the shack, which the woman said was not fitted up. She said the bed frame belonged to her daughter and was left leaning against a wall in the shack.
After the shooting, the woman said the members of the security forces sent her to sit on a cart on the road.
“I sit down a good time and then afterwards they say they want meh go at the station. [But then] they tell meh [go] in, if is anything, they would come to me, because me tell them...meh getting cold, because meh sick.”
Another nearby resident told Stabroek News that he too was awakened by the gunshots and immediately told his wife to lie flat on the floor. He said the shooting lasted for a very short time and sounded mostly like high-powered weapons. Thereafter, the security forces searched his home, as well as another nearby.
The GDF, in its release, expressed appreciation for “the support of the law-abiding and public-spirited citizens of the Buxton/Friendship area who have, over the recent past, provided invaluable support to the anti-crime operations in that community.”
The police and the army stepped up operations in Buxton/Friendship several weeks ago in a bid to drive out criminals who have created havoc in the country over the last 15 months.