Police 'clueless' as bodies keep dropping
By Kim Lucas
December 8, 2003
"Investigations are continuing," is the overused phrase by the police as they keep picking up bullet-riddled bodies around the country, in particular the city and along the lower East Coast Demerara.
To date, about 200 persons have been murdered for this year alone and violent attacks have resumed against ordinary citizens.
The crime wave has, no doubt, taken on a new and frightening dimension as unknown killers continue to leave their mark in blood. Speculation is rife as to who and what is behind the skyrocketing murder figures and increased abductions, while investigators insist that they are doing all within their powers to bring the perpetrators to justice.
But recently, a senior member of the Guyana Police Force confessed that "we don't have a clue who are the persons involved in these killings...we are very much concerned over these execution-style murders."
Following Wednesday night's robbery attacks on several Coldingen households on the East Coast Demerara, the police announced that they were increasing their presence, with roadblocks and searches.
But one aspect of the situation, witnesses claim, is that perpetrators either identify themselves as members of the police force or wear bulletproof vests emblazoned with the force's insignia.
When questioned how the force was dealing with this issue, Police Commissioner (Ag) Floyd McDonald first stated that "the force accommodates ranks to work in plain clothes," especially those stationed at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
"If the ranks are engaged in any offensive action, the regulation states that they must show proper identification...We have issued two releases denouncing or denying that we are involved in the shooting...any shooting that we are involved in, we issue releases. Any shooting outside of that we are not accepting responsibility," McDonald added.
He is adamant that there is no need for the force to review its operational procedures to protect against criminals impersonating cops. Instead, he reiterated that, "procedures are there for ranks in plain clothes to engage person or persons in any offensive police action."
Nevertheless, the killings continue and the violent robberies have resumed. In the latest incident, six well-dressed bandits terrorised an entire community at Coldingen, in one case, placing a gun to a baby's head to get the parents to comply with their demands.
In the last couple of weeks, more than two dozen men were murdered, some after being abducted and others, ambushed. At least three of the men have had brushes with the law: Patrick Gunraj, whose decomposed body was found in city trench on Wednesday, had been charged for the $50M bank robbery at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast in the late 1990s; then in October, a 41-year-old father of two, Mukesh Boodhoo, was taken from his Vryheid's Lust home by a group of men. He was subsequently found murdered. Boodhoo, too, had served some time in jail for a murder and, on several occasions after his release, was rearrested on suspicion of having committed other crimes. The third man, Trevor Manson-Hing, was shot dead at the corner of James and Hill Street, Albouystown on November 23. The police said he had several brushes with the law. To date, no one has been arrested and/or charged for any of these killings.
Despite this, the force has deemed 65 per cent of these murders as solved and suggested many more will be cracked.
"Once there is evidence of who did it, those matters are considered solved. We will charge the person [and if they are not in custody], issue arrest warrants...we wouldn't go about killing people 'willy-nilly'. We always strive to arrest people and charge them if there is evidence against them," one investigator stated.
But while some murders might be straightforward, either emanating from a robbery or domestic dispute, several others seem to generate more questions than answers. The ambush and murders of Jason Chapman and Orville Gabriel Jnr on November 28 at Atlanticville, East Coast Demerara, as well as the shooting death of Mark King at his Sophia home that same night are yet to be solved.
Below are some of the most recent killings:
** December 1 - Francis Parmanand Singh was shot dead while operating minibus in Buxton;
** November 23 - Trevor Manson-Hing was shot dead at the corner of James and Hill Street, Albouystown; no arrests made;
** November 23 - Kwesi Williams was shot dead in the compound of the National Cultural Centre, one week after he escaped from gunmen at Buxton; no arrests made;
** November 18 - Dexter Henry, of South Sophia, found shot dead on the Ogle foreshore. A man and woman were subsequently arrested;
** November 17 - Businessman Michael Dublin, Mark Cato and Trevor Jarvis were shot dead in the Buxton/Friendship area; a wanted man fingered, but no one arrested;
** November 2 - Shawn Skeete shot and killed at his 'C' Field home;
** November 1 - taxi-driver Troy Francis Hinds gunned down in front of White Castle fish shop;
** October 24 - men in a white car abducted Andre Ettiena while with friends in Norton Street. Skeletal remains found aback Botanical Gardens on November 25; no one arrested;
** October 24 - men kidnapped Phillip Sergeant from his Joseph Pollydore Street home. Reportedly escaped but not heard from since;
** October 3 - Brazilian miner Paraiba was murdered in an area called Blackwater Creek; robbery suspected as motive;
** September 2 - Popular dancehall promoter, Andre Williams called 'Dougla Andre' gunned down at the corner of Forshaw and Albert Streets;
** September 4 - The bullet-riddled bodies of Richard Thomas of Smythfield New Amsterdam, Daniel Marcus of Cinderella City Linden and Jamaican Donald Brown called Dandy were discovered at Swan on the Linden Soesdyke Highway; soured narcotics deal suspected as motive;
** September 6 - Phillipa Harrison was allegedly slashed to death by reputed husband Neil Bovell. Bovell remains at large reportedly terrorising residents of Stanleytown on the West Bank Demerara;
** September 6 - Eion Forte of East La Penitence was shot and killed in Freeman Street shortly after he warned one of his friends to be careful; no one arrested;
** September 8 - Standford Cush beaten to death on Linden highway at Kuru Kururu. Two youths were subsequently arrested and charged with that murder;
** September 13 - Winston McKend shot at West Coast Demerara Chinese restaurant. The restaurant owner Zhu Ben Yu was later charged with murder;
** September 17 - Ronald Garnett gunned down in Pike Street;
** September 19 - Clive McLean of East Ruimveldt and Clive Savory of La Grange West Bank Demerara were both abducted and shot dead on the Pattensen road at Turkeyen; no one arrested;
** September 20 - Shameer Hussein of Alness, Corentyne was killed at Kildonan by bandits;
** September 21 - Collis DeAbreu shot and killed outside Blue Iguana;
** September 24 - Brazilian Jose Soares Silva Filho was ambushed and shot dead around the Wisroc junction;
** September 25 - Sewdat Narine was stabbed to death over $700;
** September 26 - Prince Phillip Dunn, a wharf hand was shot dead not far from his Eccles, East Bank Demerara;
** September 27 - Orlando Grenada was ambushed and stabbed to death at Buxton;
While the murders continue unabated, several persons have been kidnapped and not heard of, including taxi-driver Vivekanand Nandalall who was snatched on October 16; 29-year-old Krishna Lakeram, who was kidnapped from his Friendship, East Bank Demerara; Lakeram's brother, Orlando Persaud called 'Buck' and more recently, Kwesi Baker of Comfort Zone Taxi Service, who was snatched on Thursday evening.
Up to early last month, the murder toll was 180, 50 more than the corresponding period for 2002. At that time, the police said there was a 13 per cent overall decline in serious crimes. It was the force's opinion that the situation was not worsening.
One theory for the execution-style killings in the city and along the East Coast and Bank of Demerara is believed to be the work of vigilantes who are weeding out suspected thieves, or it was persons settling scores.
Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Roger Luncheon, labelled the mysterious killers as "phantoms" following the October 28, 2002 bloodbath in sections of the city and along the East Coast Demerara in which seven men were shot dead.