Taxi-driver, passenger killed in Atlanticville ambush
-another man slain outside his Sophia home
By Kim Lucas
November 30, 2003
A taxi-driver who cheated death close to eight months ago, was one of three men killed in two separate shooting incidents on Friday night, bringing to 11 the number of persons killed over the last two weeks.
Jason Chapman, 35, of Sophia, Georgetown, was driving a Comfort Zone taxi, HB 1237, when he and a passenger were ambushed and killed at Atlanticville on the East Coast Demerara. That shooting took place shortly after 10:00 pm, just under two hours after another Sophia man, 28-year-old Mark King, was shot and killed in his yard.
Chapman's passenger was identified as Brian Junior Gordon called 'Bry Bry.' Up to press time last night, investigators said they were still trying to ascertain a motive for the shootings.
Chapman and King lived a few streets apart in the South Sophia area, and a short distance from another murdered taxi-driver, Dexter Henry, whose bullet-riddled body was found on the Ogle foreshore on November 18.
In the first shooting, King's relatives said two men turned up at the young man's home between 8:00 and 9:00 pm during a heavy downpour, and called first at his sister's apartment. (King and an older sister shared a double dwelling in the squatting area.)
The gunmen reportedly identified themselves as members of the Guyana Police Force and ordered the occupants of the house to open their doors. Investigators confirmed having received reports that both gunmen were dressed in bulletproof vests bearing police insignia, and say they have launched an investigation into the matter.
Stabroek News understands that the young man's sister first emerged from the apartment. One of the gunmen entered and checked, while the other stood guard at King's door. Relatives said after a quick survey of the sister's quarters, the gunman walked around the side of the building to join his partner at King's door.
Just about that time, they said, King began to ask what the men wanted of him and emerged from his home with upraised hands.
"He come out with his hands in the air and just as he come out here, they open fire on he," one relative stated. According to the woman, the young man was shot repeatedly and after he collapsed in the yard, the gunmen turned and ran off.
When Stabroek News turned up at the man's home yesterday, investigators were still looking for spent shells. One relative said King's killers used at least two different calibre weapons, since they saw the police gathering several handfuls of "long, fat" bronze shells and others that were "silver."
A bloodied sheet, along with a red, gold and green knitted bandanna, was left in the grass where King had fallen. There was also a pair of surgical gloves left behind in the mud. One senior police source told this newspaper that the force had no criminal record on King. The young man sold baskets and according to one investigator, he was also a seaman. His body was removed from the scene some time around 2:00 am yesterday.
The Atlanticville shootout
Shortly after 10:00 pm on Friday, gunshots echoed through the normally quiet Atlanticville neighbourhood, sending residents scuttling for cover, some under their beds. According to one resident, one car appeared to have chased the other into the ward before the shootout started.
Some persons claimed that as the taxi tried to exit the winding streets, another carload of men approached and opened fire fatally wounding Chapman and Gordon. Chapman was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital at 10:45 pm by a group of men, one of whom was identified as a policeman. However, the taxi-driver succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds at about 11:30 pm.
One of his sisters said Chapman had previously worked with Comfort Zone Taxi Service, but had left in April after he was badly beaten on the same night the taxi base was shot at and two cars torched.
On April 6, gunmen turned on the relatives of 2002 Mash Day prison escapee, Shawn Brown, torching their Pike Street, Kitty home. That same night, the Comfort Zone cabs were burnt.
In one of the attacks he survived, Chapman had gone to Craig Street, Campbellville some time close to midnight to pick up someone, when a carload of men pulled up, beat him severely while asking him about the owner of the car he was driving. Gordon's address was yesterday stated as Craig Street.
According to Chapman's sister, he returned to work at the same taxi service about a month ago. Close to 11:00 pm on Friday she received a call at home that he had been badly beaten and taken to the hospital.
She immediately rushed to the hospital and managed to speak to him briefly before he died.
"He look up at me and said, 'Sis, tell them give me a shot to black me out because I can't tek this pain,'" the young woman tearfully recalled. She said by the time she went to the blood bank and returned, her brother was gasping for air. A short while later, a nurse broke the bad news.
The woman said before Chapman died, she had contacted Comfort Zone Taxi Service, but someone there said they had not heard from Chapman since 8:00 pm. The service had reportedly tried reaching him on his cellular phone as well as on the car's radio set.
Last week Sunday night, two men were shot dead in different parts of the city. One of them, Kwesi Williams, 21, was cornered and killed in the compound of the National Cultural Centre on Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown; while the other, Trevor Manson-Hing was shot dead in Albouystown.
The country's murder toll for 2003 has now exceeded 190, about 55 more than the corresponding period last year.