Death squad behind Diwali night killings
Stabroek News
March 7, 2004

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The death squad is said to have been behind the murder of Othniel Embrack and four other men in a Diwali night bloodbath two years ago.

Axel Williams and two members of the police force along with another man, who has also been linked to several killings, have been named by sources as the men responsible for the slaughter. A prominent businessman who was known to Embrack is believed to have financed the operation.

Embrack, called "Agouti," along with Derrick Torrington, Oliver Springer, Andrew McPherson, and a man who was only identified as "Buckman" were all gunned down at the junction of Robb and Light streets on Diwali night, November 2002.

There had been some suspicion that Embrack may have been involved in illegal activities, while there had also been a robbery at one of his boutiques the weekend before he was gunned down, which it was suggested had some connection to the motive for the killings.

But according to sources, who wish to remain anonymous, Embrack was being targeted by members of the death squad, after he refused to be a part of the group.

One source told Stabroek News that one week before he was killed Embrack was summoned by a senior official who tried to recruit him into the group.

The 40-year-old city businessman was approached because he had associates that were in contact with some of the wanted men who were suspected of being behind most of the criminal activity.

"A week before he was killed they called him in... [but] he didn't want to be in that kind of thing," said the source.

Embrack may have been planning to leave the country before he was killed after word got back to him that there was a contract out on his life.

On the day he was killed Embrack discovered that his boutique on Orange Walk had been burgled by two unknown persons who stole clothes, shoes and other items. He was upset and left his home at about 9 pm after he got a call from someone who told him where the thieves could be found.

"Buckman," who lived in a shack at the rear of Embrack's boutique was thought to have seen the burglars. He was confronted by Embrack and the other men who were with him, who beat him until he agreed to take them to the robbers, as he knew the places that they frequented.

At the time of their deaths the five men were travelling in two taxis belonging to Central Point Taxi Service which was owned by Embrack. He was with Torrington and "Buckman" in the car with the licence plate, HB 174, while McPherson and Springer were in the other car, PHH 1485. McPherson, who had armed himself with a baseball bat before he left home, was a hire-car driver who was working at the taxi service. Springer was only a friend of his.

There are conflicting reports about the shooting, but the police said that the five men stopped at the junction and their assailants, who were proceeding east along Robb street, opened fire on them then drove away.

Physical evidence at the scene indicated that the men were not inside the cars when they were shot. Sources say that the men were forced off the road and were made to get out by men who identified themselves as policemen. They wore bulletproof vests with the word 'police' printed on the front.

Embrack, who knew Williams, reportedly greeted him and was shot several times at point blank range. Some of the other men tried to run away but were mowed down in their escape by the three other men and Williams.

Seven .26 spent shells were found in the vehicle in which Embrack was riding, but nothing incriminating or illegal was found in either vehicle, a police source had said.

Meanwhile, Stabroek News was told that before they found their prey, the gunmen had been searching for them in the Kitty area. It is believed that this is where the men first spotted Embrack and his entourage, whom they tracked to the city.

Williams, who is believed to have been a member of a death squad that was set up to find and eliminate criminals, has been identified as a key suspect in several unsolved killings that occurred over the last two years.

There have also been questions about his relationship with the Minister of Home Affairs, who has been accused of having knowledge of the activities of the squad. He has dismissed these allegations. There have been several calls for an independent investigation into the claims which the government has resisted, maintaining there is no evidence of such an entity.