Flashback: Bloody Monday ends with seven dead
Too many questions remain unanswered
October 28, 2003
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One year ago today, the bodies fell in a series of shooting incidents that erupted in the city and spread to parts of the lower East Coast Demerara. Many thought this would mean the end of the crime wave that had followed the Mash Day jailbreak. But it was to have many more bloody months to run and it seems in recent weeks to be on the rise again.
If the questions that arose from the discoveries made by the police on October 28, 2002 had been addressed perhaps many more lives could have been saved. But one year on the public knows little more than what it learnt that day.
It was on October 28, that high-profile businessman, Brahmanand Nandalall escaped from his abductors, after three days in captivity. He had been snatched after a brief chase through the city. Before that weekend was through, another man and his daughter were also snatched and released after a ransom was paid.
But early on the morning of Monday, October 28, the situation changed dramatically. Two of the five men who had broken out of the Camp Street jail last year, were among seven men gunned down. The police claimed responsibility for some of the deaths, but denied involvement in others.
Today, one year later, mystery still surrounds the shooting incidents that claimed the lives of prison escapees Dale Moore and Mark Fraser; businessmen Lancelot Roach and Frank Solomon; US citizen Michael Singh; Delon Nelson, 27, of Castello Housing Scheme; and another man bearing the surname of McPherson.
At least two persons escaped that shootout. One of them was 16-year-old Candace Lowe, who was reportedly travelling along the East Coast Demerara in a car with Fraser and Roach; the other person left only a bloody trail through a section of the Sophia squatting area in Georgetown. Stabroek News understands that the young woman has since refused to divulge what she knows.
Going by the police account of that day, at around 3:30 am one of their units radioed in to report that a car in the Bel Air/Lamaha Gardens area had fired on them. The ranks were calling for tactical support.
Acting Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald said his ranks returned fire and, shortly after, discovered a body later identified as that of Moore. Further operations were conducted, he said, and the body of another person was found in the general area.
The shooting occurred a short distance from the residence of Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, and some time before 7:00 am, while at the Lamaha Gardens scene, investigators were alerted about Singh’s body in Le Repentir Cemetery.
At the cemetery, ranks were again informed of yet another shooting, this time at Annandale on the East Coast Demerara. Fraser and Roach had been shot and killed in Roach’s green Toyota Sprinter, PHH 7248. There were 16 bullet holes in the front windshield of the car; eight on the driver’s side window. Quite a number more had shattered the other windows and pierced parts of the car. The same gunmen in the car bearing the licence plate PHH 5642 reportedly shot Solomon in the head a couple of minutes later.
After the shooting, McDonald announced at a press briefing that the police were responsible for killing Moore and McPherson, both of whom were shot dead outside a Lamaha Gardens residence. He also said the police fatally shot Nelson in Section ‘M’ Campbellville after he had lobbed a grenade at a passing patrol from a yard.
The commissioner, however, denied any police involvement in the deaths of Roach and Fraser. Their killing, he suggested, might have been as a result of a gang war. But the killings that day have left many still wondering what was the genesis of the war and who were the soldiers.
Some persons, including ranks of a Guyana Defence Force patrol, reported that the men identified themselves as policemen.
Meanwhile subsequent investigations revealed that a number of individuals had acted as fronts to rent houses and buy cellular phones for the escapees and their cohorts.
Reports also state that investigators hit a brick wall as they tried to locate the “owners” of the phones. Ironically, while the police had hunted for them, the wanted men were holed up in one of the rented houses just a few doors away from Gajraj’s home.
Two other houses in Bonasika Street and Sections ‘K’ and ‘M’ Campbellville, too, were rented by “front” persons, one of whom was a woman who has since disappeared, reliable sources told Stabroek News. It was believed that Solomon, a former member of the Guyana Police Force, might have acted as one of the “fronts”.
The large cache of weapons, communication equipment, ammunition, homemade bombs and several other items including medical supplies unearthed from these ‘safe’ houses, also raised serious concerns. The arsenal, McDonald said, was of concern to the police as it contained weapons not normally used.
But to this date, it is still not clear why Nandalall was snatched. All the commissioner was willing to say at that time was that the businessman was “alive and out of captivity”. He offered no other information pertaining to his kidnapping and escape.
Nandalall, the commissioner said, had not been questioned by police but instead had had a telephone conversation with senior ranks after he had escaped.
In another dramatic twist that day, a house in Creen Street Georgetown, raided by police on several occasions on the assumption that wanted men frequented it, was set alight by unknown persons at around 3:50 am.
** Where were Nandalall and the other kidnapped victims held and what triggered the first set of shootings?
** How were three carloads of men tracked and killed in what appeared to be well-planned executions?
** Was the Creen Street fire connected to the incidents?
** Who was the person who escaped from Moore’s car when it crashed in Lamaha Gardens?
** Who killed Singh and why?
** Who carried out the executions on the East Coast Demerara?
** What was Frank Solomon’s involvement?
** Who dropped the 9 mm pistol and hand grenade in Oleander Gardens?
** Who rented the houses in Sections ‘M’ and ‘K’, Bonasika Street and Lamaha Gardens?
** Were there other safe houses?
** Where did the guns come from and were any ballistics examinations done?
** Who supplied the communication equipment found in the houses?
** Are there remnants of this particular gang still at large?
One year later, the public is still looking for answers as the killings go on.