Hard times for those scarred by Bartica massacre
Gaulbert Sutherland and Alva Solomon Stabroek News - February 16th. 2009
In an instant on February 17 last year their lives changed drastically and dramatically. On that night a heavily-armed gang attacked the community, leaving twelve persons dead including three policemen. Several persons sustained gunshot wounds too. Killed in the attack were Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; policemen stationed at the Bartica Police Station, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Deonarine Singh Essequibo; Abdool Yasseen; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo; and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara, were shot execution style at the Bartica Ferry Stelling.
They hope. Hope that their wounds would heal, for justice, for their lives to be a little easier. At times it is all they have; hope and memories.
Every day at around midday, Debra Gilkes grabs some clothes and walks around Bartica hoping to get some sales.
A few miles away, Raymond White can mostly be found at home, unable to do much for himself.
A year ago, Gilkes would have sat and had lunch, maybe with a friend. A year ago, she would have called her husband and they would perhaps have had lunch together. However, just about a year ago, on a day that is indelibly ingrained in her mind, she lost the father of her children, breadwinner and husband, Edwin Gilkes.
|Dexter Adrian||Zaheer Zakir||Deonarine Singh||Ronald Gomes||Ashraf Khan|
As for White, he would have been captaining a boat in the rivers that lead to and from Bartica. He cannot do so now.
In an instant on February 17 last year their lives changed drastically and dramatically. On that night a heavily-armed gang attacked the community, leaving twelve persons dead including three policemen. Several persons sustained gunshot wounds too. Killed in the attack were Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; policemen stationed at the Bartica Police Station, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yasseen; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo; and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara, were shot execution style at the Bartica Ferry Stelling.
For their relatives the pain of their loss lingers even as some struggle to ensure that life goes on. Even though she has a regular job, her salary is barely enough to pay her home loan, so Gilkes vends during her lunch break.
Chores are difficult for White, who was shot in both hands and feet, and every day is spent waiting for surgery to repair shattered bones, that frustratingly never seems to arrive.
Melrose Allicock, who was shot in his heel, has been unable to go back to mining, because he cannot lift heavy weights anymore. Ferreira’s, wife, Norma Valentine has managed to accept his death and cherishes the memories of the good times they had.
Barticians remember the day they were thrust into a horrific chapter they would have preferred had never been written. Several spoke with Stabroek News recently of the changes in their lives.
For Gilkes, her life with Edwin, who was 47 years when he was killed and at work as a security guard at the Bartica Banks DIH building, is a memory now but the pain lingers and surviving is a struggle that is made harsher by promises unfulfilled.
“Life change on the whole, you don’t have that person anymore so you gotta fend for yourself,” she says. Back in February 2008, on a night, where nothing had presaged an incident out of the ordinary, she was awakened by her sisters, who told her that Gilkes was shot and was at the Bartica Hospital. Unknown to her at that time, he was already dead.
To her, it was the manner in he met his death that was terribly saddening…”if he was sick, it would have been a different story”, and it is this that she contemplates at times.
The aftermath has not been easy. The family had constructed a home in Bartica and the loan has to be paid off. Debra earns $36,000 and out of this $31,000 goes to the bank to pay the loan, while the remainder goes to another loan, which she has almost finished repaying. To survive, for the two hours that she has off for lunch each day, she goes out on the street and sells clothes. She says that it is difficult but given the high transportation costs and other expenses, she has no choice. “It can be really hard and tough,” she said.
For a while, she had hoped that at least the loan they had taken to build their home would have been taken care of and lifted off her shoulders. She recalled that following the massacre, President Bharrat Jagdeo had asked her what assistance, he could render and she had requested help in paying off the loan. That has not happened and she is disappointed. “Is not that I went and ask him, he called me…I tell myself as long as you get that clear off, at least life can be a little easier,” she recounted.
The woman said that she was never contacted and recently she called the Office of the President and spoke to a person, who gave his name as Budhu and said he was a presidential assistant. She said she was advised to write a letter and she did and is waiting for a response. She is grateful however, for the fact that, after the massacre, the Bartica Regatta Committee and the Platinum Inn held a concert to raise funds to help those affected and the Anglican Church and close friends also assisted.
But the memories remain. Gilkes says that her four-year-old daughter talks about her father and misses him. The memories make her a little fearful too. She stated that when she sees soldiers and policemen, her heart sometimes skips a beat noting that she feels this way because the gunmen invaded even though the police were there, “they came and just upturn our peace”.
The woman says that she is not sure who committed the act and while it has been said that some have been captured, she is not sure if all have been. She stated that she trusts in God and this is keeping her strong. Whenever she is reminded of the event, she says the memories return afresh and her eyes fill with tears and her heart beats faster… “is just hard”.
She is thankful to everyone who has assisted her and hopes that there is peace in Guyana, noting that some are still living in fear. She counts herself among them.
Raymond White displays his shattered arm at his home in Bartica recently.
Raymond White was going home after working for a week in the river but it would be months before he got there, after narrowly escaping death, having been shot several times.
Recounting the incident, White, who was a boat captain, said that he had just returned from Devil’s Hole, where he worked. He stated that Dexter Adrian, who was a friend and neighbour, had picked him up at the beach and told him that he had to get some gas. White recalled that he told the man that he had heard about some shooting and was told “to keep a cool head” and they drove to the “boat house” on First Avenue, to get the gas. As they turned down the street, into First Avenue, bullets flew at them from the CB&R Mining Company building, where Ferreira, who was a guard there, was killed. White was in the backseat and said that he did not see the gunmen, and as he heard the gunshots he put his hands on his head and squeezed down between the seats. “They just spraying the car”, he stated adding that he then fainted.
When he regained consciousness, he said, he began urging Adrian to drive off not realizing that the driver was already dead. He said that he was hit but at the time, didn’t know it. His injuries included two bullets in his left arm, several which grazed his right arm and both his legs and flakes got in his eyes. He said he fainted again and didn’t know what happened afterwards.
He regained consciousness when three youngsters removed him from the car and took him to the hospital on a bicycle. He asserted that if they had not come he would have died. Though, he was in and out of consciousness, he said that it was about 30 minutes before he was taken to the hospital.
A few hours later he was transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH), where he spent two months, unable to even bathe himself. He said he did not know that Adrian had died until the following weekend, when someone went to the hospital and asked if he knew.
For him, the scars run deep. Now, his right hand is numb, he cannot do anything with the left one and cannot see well out of the left eye. He walks with a pronounced limp and said that both of his feet are numb and this feeling is intensified when it rains. He said he has not worked since because he is unable to. “You can’t really tek it on, if you study and tek it on, you gon trip out,” he says.
Any trip is limited and White mostly stays at home whenever he is in Bartica. He has a son who goes to the Bartica Secondary School and says that he is lucky that his mother is a vendor there. Life has changed, he noted, pointing out that he has stopped drinking and smoking and is dependent on his wife. He said some friends sometimes give him a few dollars but life is a lot harder as his house loan has to be repaid and there are other bills.
His regular trips to the GPH - 12 since he was discharged - are frustrating as surgery that he is supposed to undergo to fix the shattered bones in his arm has not yet materialized. “Every time I go they just turning me off again and again,” he stated. He also goes to see an eye specialist. The man said that finding money to make the trips is a problem. According to White, the surgery that he has to undergo involves taking bone from his foot to put in his arm.
He said that he did not know who was involved in the shootings that night and is uncertain whether all involved have been captured. The man said that he didn’t even want to return home, though he says he feels safer in Bartica now and thinks that the police would be able to respond more effectively now. He says squibs (firecrackers) make him wary and uneasy.
As he thinks about the incident, faith is what pulls him through. “I want my hand fix, and my eye fix and I gon get a job somewhere,” he said. He said that since the incident he had not received any help from anyone though he is in need of assistance.
Melrose Allicock in Bartica recently.
Melrose Allicock’s friend, Edwin Gilkes died and he was lucky to escape alive but scarred. Like White, he had returned to Bartica on February 17 last year, and gone to buy bread not knowing that within minutes his life would forever be changed. Around 9:10 that night, he stopped to chat with Gilkes.
Several minutes later, he said, he looked around and saw an “orderly line” of men “dressed like soldiers” close to the Bartica Police station, near the Inquiries section. He said the men numbered “about 30” and they were wearing different types of camouflage type clothing. He said he thought there were about 30 of them after he glanced at the line but noted that they could have been less “but it could have been even more”.
The man, who makes his living as a cobbler now, said that given their apparel, he thought the men were soldiers and though he had never seen so many soldiers in the community before, he had no cause to be apprehensive. He said that he did not notice any guns and a few minutes elapsed before a single gunshot signalled the start of the carnage.
Allicock stated that at the time, Gilkes was eating while he was standing close to the door to the security hut looking towards the street. As the gunfire began he looked at the police station. “When I look across, I didn’t see anybody outside… these men like they just disappear,” he said.
Allicock recalled that he could not see anybody clearly and so he decided not to go out in the street. He recounted that the gunfire did not stop and suddenly Gilkes shouted, “I dead! I dead!”. He said when he looked at his friend he saw a hole and blood at his waistline and side. Gilkes got down on the floor and Allicock got down on the floor too and as the gunfire continued, Gilkes began calling for water and his cellular phone started ringing. Allicock recounted that his head was inside the guard hut but Gilkes’ head was outside and the rapid gunfire kept them lying on the floor.
After about 15 minutes, Allicock said, he felt a “burning” in his left heel as more bullets flew towards the buildings, where they were. He had been shot. As the heavy and rapid gunfire continued, Gilkes bled profusely.
Allicock said within a few minutes, he noticed that the police land cruiser was parked outside the station and heard as it was driven up First Avenue. He stated that as it left, he heard gunfire farther up the road. An unarmed policeman was in a store compound next to the police station and he went over to the Banks DIH building, where Allicock and Gilkes were and went to the back.
Allicock recalled listening to the sound of people moving, heard footsteps approaching and suspected that the gunmen were going to check on them. He said he stopped breathing and lay still “like I already pass out” and the person stopped over him for about 30 seconds before moving away. During this time, he said, he recalled portions of scripture.
Allicock said that several minutes later, someone approached stating that he was there to help and asked whether he was okay. A car came and was reversing when more shots being directed to the building were heard and it drove off. Ten minutes later, Allicock said, two men drove up in a car and said they were prison officials and had come to help. Gilkes was placed in the trunk of the car and taken to the Bartica Hospital. He could not get up and was not responding to questions, Allicock recounted, noting that his friend died around midnight at the hospital.
Allicock said that the incident lasted for a little over an hour. When he reached the hospital, amidst the pain, groans and screams of the wounded, he was placed on a bed and given saline. He recalled that there were three police ranks in the same ward. He had been shot in the left heel and a bullet grazed his right foot.
The wounded man said that at around midnight, about six soldiers arrived at the hospital by boat and he heard as they made arrangements for an aircraft to come to Baganara to evacuate those seriously wounded. He said he was afraid that the gunmen would have come to the hospital and recalled that it was around 6 am that he saw a police vehicle enter the hospital compound with “bodies piled up high”.
Because his wounds were not as serious as some of the others, it was not until after midday that he reached the GPH where he underwent an x-ray and had his wounds further dressed. Allicock was not admitted to the hospital and it was a month before he was able to walk again.
Noting that he had known Gilkes since childhood, he stated that he had wanted to attend his funeral but was unable to stand. He stayed with relatives on the East Coast Demerara and when he returned to Bartica, he was told to go to the station to give a statement about the incident.
He said that three weeks prior to the attack, there was talk in the community that the man blamed for the attack, Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, who has since been killed, was coming to Bartica, allegedly because his girlfriend was seen on a beach there.
The incident has made him uneasy and even now firecrackers can get him a bit scared. “Sometimes I does remember but I don’t feel as frightened as before,” Allicock said. At times he experiences difficulty in walking and standing for long periods and he has to avoid lifting heavy loads. He said that because of the injury he had to put aside a prospecting licence and now makes a living as a cobbler, which “doesn’t really pay”.
The man said he believes that more members of the gang are still around. “I got a feeling that more than half of them might be at large”. He recalled that while he did not get a good look at them, a lot of them appeared to be young and short in stature. He said that the increased security presence in the community eased some of the tension but full confidence was still lacking though he pointed out that at least “the former complacency” is not obvious any longer and there is vigilance.
Asked his opinion on the Rawlins gang involvement, he stated that up to now it is “speculation” and some people are not satisfied. He said the motive still puzzles but robbery seemed to be a part of it. “I don’t know if that was all…lingering doubts still remain,” said Allicock. He said that among the questions which remain is how the gunmen were able to get to Bartica undetected. He stated that in his conversations with residents, sometimes the incident or aspects of it would be brought up.
Allicock declared that he wants the police to keep checking and try to keep an eye on travellers. He asserted that since the two massacres he has noticed that there were some desertions from the army but he doesn’t know if that was a contributing cause.
“I don’t feel entirely safe,” he stated. He stated that the memories crop up ever so often and when they’re gone from his mind, the ache in his foot is a reminder. At times, he said, it seems as though the incident was not real but he has come to grips with it.
Norma Valentine looks at a photo of her late husband Irving Ferreira at her home recently. A photograph of Irving Ferreira occupies a prominent place in the Ferreira home as he once did in their lives.
After their 41 years together, his widow, Norma Valentine says that though she still thinks of the incident there is a time for moving forward. “I am getting on…I put that behind me. I got to go forward now. You cannot forget but you have to move on,” the woman, who turns 72 later this month, said. Ferreira was working at his job as a security guard at the CB&R Mining Company when he was killed, shot in the head by the gunmen.
Valentine says that she most remembers her husband’s quiet nature though he could be very jovial and related that their children at times, sit and laugh as they reminisce about him. “They remember all the nice things he had to say,” she said recalling that her husband usually had people laughing.
On the night that he died, Ferreira called her three times. She was in Georgetown taking care of her daughter at the time. Though she has accepted his death, “it happened, I couldn’t do anything”, the manner in which he died has shaken her. “I feel terrible because I never expected that,” Valentine said. She points out that the community was supportive.
The question of who committed the act still lingers and given the many things said about the Rawlins gang, Valentine said she does not know what to think anymore. She said she is pleased that some of the persons, believed to have participated in the massacre were caught but does not know if everyone was caught.
However, it is not something that she dwells on. She is of the view that some of the men didn’t know what they were doing and some are still alive. She says that she hopes those alive would change their ways. “I hope God forgives them because is a lot of homes they put in worries,” she said.
She asserted that she has never felt unsafe in Bartica and believes that the government and security services are “trying” further adding that the police and soldiers are doing what they have to do. If the police could capture the men, they should, she stated. The house that she and Ferreira were building has been completed and life goes on though the memories are always there and at times residents bring up the issue. “I’m alright…I’m at peace,” she says.
Since the incident, there are changes have occurred in the community. There is a Joint Services presence now and the police station is surrounded by a fence. However, in recent days, as the anniversary of the massacre looms there has been an increase in robberies in the community, some involving guns and many have expressed concern.
|Errol Thomas||Irving Ferreira||Shane Fredericks||Ron Osborne||Baldeo Singh||Abdool Yasseen|
At the Herstelling, East Bank Demerara home of the late police lance corporal Shane Fredericks last week, his reputed wife Indira, said it is difficult to cope with every-day life as memories of her husband, with whom she had lived for ten years, are fresh.
She said her husband had joined the Guyana Police Force at the age of 17 and served the force for another 17 years until the time of his death. According to her, he had been stationed at the Bartica Police Station for approximately five years and whenever he had an opportunity he would return home to spend time with her and their five-year-old son Mark.
Recalling the day of the incident, Indira said she and her husband had a normal telephone conversation which was cut short when his cellular phone credit ran out. She said he had promised to call her back but he never got the chance to. In tears, she said she subsequently received a call from someone at Bartica who informed her of her husband’s brutal death .The sudden shock sent her tumbling down the stairs resulting in her having to seek medical attention.
She said he had spent the week prior to his death at home since he had promised to spend Valentine’s Day with her. Since the incident, she said, she has experienced numerous sleepless nights and her future looks bleak since her husband was the sole breadwinner of the family. She said she recently started a cosmetology class to learn a skill.
Indira pays a monthly rent and was receiving financial assistance from her parents but her father has since fallen ill and as such they cannot assist her any longer.
The Guyana Police Force had provided her with financial assistance but she said while she was thankful for the gesture, the money was “nothing much” since it had to be shared between her and her husband’s parents.
Indira recently received the transport for a plot of land in the Diamond Housing Scheme, which was provided by the government but building a house now is “all a dream”.
In tears, she said she approached the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security to have an audience with Minister Priya Manickchand but on every visit she is told the minister is not there. She is appealing to the government for assistance since she emphasized her husband was killed in the line of duty.
Meanwhile, a neighbour remembers the police officer as an easy-going individual who dedicated most of his time to his family and his job. The neighbour said his death has deeply affected his family especially his son who constantly asks for his father.
Constable 19886 Ron Osborne is remembered as having had a cool and calm character and always willing to assist others. According to his cousin Joylyn Chase, Osborne had displayed an interest in joining the police force since in his early teens. She said he joined the force as a 16-year old after relocating to Georgetown from his place of birth, Kamarang. He was 22 years old at the time of his death and was the second of four children.
His cousin related that the policeman had only been stationed at Bartica for about five months after being transferred from the Orinduik Police Station. She said his mother is a medex based at Kamarang and her son last spoke to her early in the week prior to his death. He had promised to call her again the following Monday.
The cousin said her aunt is a strong person and since her son’s death, she has “placed her faith in God and prays that justice will prevail”.
According to Chase, her cousin and his brothers stayed at her Robb Street home whenever they travelled to Georgetown. She recalled that on the Friday before the incident, Osborne and his brothers attended a birthday party for one of their friends in the city. She said she noticed that Osborne was strangely very quiet and only muttered a few words when asked what was bothering him. She said he left Georgetown for Bartica the following morning without saying much to her and his brothers.
On that Sunday evening while watching the Stanford 20/20 cricket match between Guyana and Antigua, Chase said, she noticed a bulletin on the television about an attack at Bartica. She said the family immediately became worried and their worst fears were confirmed later that evening when they received news of her cousin’s death. Osborne was buried at Kamarang with several government officers, including Minister within the Ministry of Education, Dr Desrey Fox who was his aunt, in attendance. The minister was very close to her nephew, according to Chase.
The family has since received assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as other government agencies.
Meanwhile, at the Montrose, East Coast Demerara home of Baldeo Singh, relatives recalled him as a very quiet person who was always willing to lend a helping hand when called upon. His daughter Rookmini related that she grew up with her father, since her parents were separated. She said he divided his time between her, his elder brother Sukdeo and his sister since they all lived in the same village.
She said her father, who was 54 at the time of his death, once did carpentry but started working as a seaman since that profession was more to his liking. Recalling the days prior to the incident, Rookmini said her father was under the employ of Abdool Yaseen Jr, who was also killed in the massacre. She said he had prepared to travel to Bartica four days before the incident but only told his relatives where he was headed while leaving home.
According to her, a notice on the television alerted her to the developments at Bartica and her thoughts were immediately drawn to her father. The following day, she received a call from a friend and was told to visit the funeral parlour to identify her father’s remains. She said she misses her father a lot since he spent a lot of time with her family, especially her daughter. She said because of his humility, she is more inspired to move on with life and to achieve her goals.
Baldeo’s elder brother Sukdeo, said his brother was a central figure around his household .He said his brother was always supportive of him and was the second sibling to die in such a manner; another brother was killed in Cummings Lodge a few years ago.
He said he believed the crime rate has slightly subsided and he felt “a little at ease” with this development.
The government has since provided Rookmini with a plot of land which, ironically, according to her, is located at Grassfield, Lusignan, the community which was the scene of a similar brutal attack the month before her father was murdered. Additionally, she is being assisted by the Rural Women’s Network (RWN). This group provides financial assistance to women in rural areas who are desirous of starting a business and initially monitors their performance thereafter leaving them to sustain themselves when they are able to do so. The RWU was approached by the government to assist the relatives of the Bartica massacre victims. The Bartica project is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
At the home of Abdool Yasseen Jr, his mother has photographs of him on display in the family’s living room and she remembers him as a “jovial young man who displayed boyish traits”, which she said, was characteristic of him. She said her son was the second of her four children and he took over the role of his father, who passed away in 2007. An elder brother lives overseas and his mother says he misses his brother a lot since they spent a lot of time talking on the telephone. She said Abdool had only graduated from the University of Guyana in 2007 after completing studies in business management. She said he was well loved by his relatives and friends and he took a special interest in taking care of his aging grandmother.
According to his grandmother, who was present during SN’s visit, her grandson would lift her whenever she wanted to move around the house. She added that he would even fetch her home from the corner after she disembarked from a minibus.
Recalling an unusual incident, his mother related that Abdool and his sister visited the homes of the victims of the Lusignan massacre a few hours after that incident, as it had occurred a short distance away from their home. She said the visit had a noticeable moving effect on her daughter since she became restless and Abdool tried to counsel her as a result. She said he had told his sister “everyone has to die some day”. After he was killed, his sister was deeply affected since they belong to a closely-knit family.
According to his mother, Abdool was contracted by Banks DIH Ltd to transport aerated beverages from Georgetown to Bartica. She said he had travelled to Bartica a few days before his death along with his employees Baldeo Singh and Ashraf Ally, all victims of the attack.
She recalled that on that dreadful evening, he had called her around 9:30 to find out if all was well at home. She later retired to bed but was awakened around 1 am the following day when relatives of Ashraf Ally informed her of a shooting at Bartica.
She said she later learnt that her son was killed, though a few relatives and friends were reluctant to inform her of his demise. She said, however, being the strong person that she is, she travelled to Bartica at daylight that day but his body had already been transported to Georgetown.
The woman, who has been a minibus driver for over 15 years, says she is “strong in mind and in spirit and everything happens for a reason”. She said she now has to continue working hard since she has to now take care of her daughter who is attending the University of Guyana; she had taken study leave to cope with her brother’s death.
The family held a memorial service according to Muslim rites in honour of Abdool Yasseen Jr. and his father yesterday.
Fineman ‘cohorts’ were killed far from
Christmas Falls -Sash Sawh bank cards found on them
June 17th. 2008 - Read also - Lusignan Massacre (Jan. 26th. 2008)
Two suspected members of the `Fineman’ gang were killed by police 90 miles away from where they were thought to be cornered at Christmas Falls and law enforcers say they retrieved a large amount of ammunition and two bank cards belonging to slain Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh.
The exact circumstances of the deadly engagement and how many gunmen are still believed to be at large are unclear but there was no positive report on the whereabouts of Guyana’s most wanted, Rondell `Fineman’ Rawlins.
Crime Chief, Seelall Persaud said the criminals are running out of options and the end for them is near. He told Stabroek News in an invited comment last evening that there had been no further developments in the pursuit of the gunmen who first eluded them at Christmas Falls, two weeks ago and on Monday hijacked a minibus on the Aroaima trail.
Shortly after the hijacking of a busload of passengers travelling from Aroaima to Linden around 4 am Monday, Persaud said the joint services ranks picked up a suspect, a 14-year-old boy and later engaged two of the gunmen in a shootout during which both of them were killed.
In a press release sent to Stabroek News just after midnight yesterday, the police said during the course of Monday ranks of a Joint Services team encountered two armed men in the Goat Farm area, Berbice River, which is between Aroaima and Kwakwani and located some 90 miles from Christmas Falls. Police said there was an exchange of gunfire during which the two men were shot and killed. Two AK-47 rifles and a quantity of ammunition have been recovered, the release said, adding that the Joint Services are working on information that others are in the area and are combing the area. Up to press time last night there was no positive identifications of the two dead men and Persaud said although the police had an idea who they are he would not speculate without official confirmation.
Reports are that the dead men are Cecil Simeon Ramcharran, 54, also known as ‘Uncle Willie,’ and a man identified as ‘Chung Boy.’ Both men’s names appeared on a police wanted bulletin earlier this year in connection with several murders and robberies. The men’s bodies were flown out from the jungle yesterday afternoon and are at the Georgetown Hospital mortuary awaiting autopsies.
In a statement last evening the joint services said that along with the two AK 47 rifles, 781 7.62 x 39 rounds, nine AK-47 magazines, ten 16-gauge cartridges and eight 12-gauge cartridges were recovered by the Joint Services.
In addition a quantity of foodstuff, a variety of clothing, cellular phones, documents, basic medical supplies and other articles were found in their possession. These include: One Republic Bank Visa Card, one Canadian Bank Gold Card and one Bwee Miles Card in the name of Satyadeow Sawh. Further, the police recovered, one kerosene stove and cooking utensils, 11 GT&T cell phone chips, three Digicel cell phone chips; three cellular phones; two torchlights; one pocket radio; one Qu’ran; one New Testament, one Bible. The Joint Services added that it will continue operations in the area aimed at interdicting the other wanted men who managed to elude the security forces at Christmas Falls, Berbice River. Asked about their operations now to capture the remaining gunmen, Persaud said the security forces were still executing their plan. He acknowledged that following Monday’s hijacking of the minibus, the gunmen might be closer to civilization, but this he said would not deter ranks from pursuing them. “We will go after them wherever the trail leads,” Persaud declared.
Reports are that following the June 6 shoot-out at Christmas Falls where Otis’ Mud-up’ Fifee was killed, the gunmen numbering over ten split up into two groups. One of the groups was headed by Ramcharran, which from all accounts was intercepted following the hijacking.
Rawlins and another group of gunmen are said to have headed in another direction. Expressing optimism that Rawlins and the rest of the gang would be captured, Persaud told Stabroek News that all the signs are showing that his network was growing thin. He pointed out that over recent weeks the security forces had been able to haul in a number of suspects associated to the criminal gang Rawlins heads. “We are seeing high men in his organization going down and more and more we are capturing his men so it is clear the end for him is near,” Persaud a senior superintendent declared.
Weighing in on the subject Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee said he did not expect the gunmen to give up although it is clear they have run out of time speed and space. Rohee said that more and more evidence was unfolding of the extent of the men’s atrocities, noting the discovery of a credit card belonging to slain agriculture minister Sawh on one of the gunmen, the contents of Rawlins’ diary and some of the confessions those detained have made. “So they will not give up,” Rohee said when asked why the gunmen were still fighting, adding that the stakes were heavily stacked against them. “The criminal enterprise being run by these men is slowly and surely dismantling…they are running out of time, speed and space,” the Home Affairs Minister declared. Sawh, two of his siblings and a security guard were slain in the early hours of April 21, 2006. Police had pinned the killings on the Buxton/Agricola criminal gang and Rawlins and several others were named in a wanted bulletin. However, reports later surfaced that Sawh’s killing was the work of a different architect, who might have contracted Rawlins’ gang to execute it.
Meanwhile, up to press time last night the driver of the minibus that was hijacked was still in police custody. Investigators who interviewed him told this newspaper that the man said he was on his way to Linden when the gunmen intercepted the vehicle and hijacked it. Stabroek News was told that the minibus with number plate BGG 501 had left the Aroaima compound at about 3 am Monday heading for Linden but returned at about 9:45 with the same passengers. Sources told Stabroek News that while on the trail, a teenager who appeared to be not older than 14 years old stopped the bus and pretended to be joining it when a group of other men approached the bus. The source said all the men were decked out in army-type clothing and wore bulletproof vests. The source said among items taken from the passengers, who included bauxite company workers and two babies, were their cellular phones and identification cards. Asked whether the teenager in custody was the person who flagged down the minibus, Persaud said no, adding that from what he was told the teenager was found in Ituni, several miles from the Aroaima trail where the minibus was hijacked.
On June 6 members of the joint services responding to intelligence reports that Rawlins and his men were hiding out at Christmas Falls some 300 miles up the Berbice River, descended on the forested area. Once there they came under fire from around seven men, one of whom was Fifee who was shot and killed. The other six men, including Rawlins however managed to escape leaving behind a cache of arms and ammunition, some of which has been confirmed by police as having been stolen from the Bartica Police station the night that community came under siege by gunmen. The security forces had also discovered that the men were housed in an area with four buildings. They had foodstuff to last several weeks in a large kitchen, which also had a gas stove, generator and solar energy. In addition, there were six portable tents, four hammocks, three mattresses, a mini-stereo system, a DVD player, a cell phone, a hand-held radio set, clothing, medical supplies and a Bible.
sign yet of the elusive
‘Fine Man’ and his marauding gang
June 15th. 2008
UP to late yesterday, the search was still on for wanted man, Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins, and his gang of loyal foot soldiers some nine days after he managed to evade a Joint Services dragnet and escape deep into the jungle of the Upper Berbice River.
Sources however speculate that the men may have grown tired by now and might well have fallen sick, after having trekked through the thick and desolate malaria-ridden jungle for days.
Up to press time, there was no word about the gang’s location, except that the Joint Services team was still hard on their heels.
Meanwhile, the Lethem woman, who is still in police custody, reportedly told investigators that she had lent her phone to a soldier whom she has since identified. Her phone numbers were found in Rawlins’ diary and she was subsequently arrested for questioning.
It was also reported that two men, believed to be Rawlins’ cohorts, were spotted in the jungle ahead of the Joint Services search party, and were said to be armed to the teeth.
The ranks found part of a weapon which was left behind by the notorious wanted men who sources said are still hiding out in the jungle in the Upper Berbice River.
A well-placed source said that a list of telephone numbers found in Rawlins’ diary turned out to be “very revealing” and is still being processed, but that the authorities are still tight-lipped about the other contents of the diary.
Rawlins has admitted responsibility for the Bartica and Lusignan murders through documented details in the diary discovered two Fridays ago during a surprise visit to Christmas Falls, some 300 miles up Berbice River.
During the confrontation, one of Rawlins’ accomplices was shot dead, and has since been identified as 21-year-old Otis Fifee, aka ‘Mud Up’ of Buxton, on the East Coast Demerara.
A Joint Service press release issued two Saturday nights ago said that at about 07:00h the day before, a patrol in the Christmas Falls area encountered a gang of about six persons.
The patrol immediately came under fire and returned fire killing one of the gang members who has been identified.
The other gang members, including Rawlins; Richard Ramcharran called ‘Uncle Willie’; another called ‘Magic’; and one ‘Chung Boy’ escaped down a slope and disappeared into the jungle, leaving a trail of blood in their wake, suggesting that one or more of them were injured.
The gang was housed at a location with four buildings in a desolate area in the jungle and had foodstuff to last several weeks in a large kitchen, which also had a gas stove, a generator and solar energy.
In addition, there were six portable tents, four hammocks, three mattresses, a mini-stereo system, a DVD player, a cell phone, a hand-held radio set, items of clothing, medical supplies, and a Bible, all of which were abandoned by the gang in their haste to escape.
Also found were three FN rifles; four shotguns, one .32 revolver; two AK47 magazines; seven FN rifle magazines, along with 1,159 rounds of 7.62 x 39 ammunition; 143 rounds of 7.62 x 51 ammunition; 10 rounds of .38 ammunition; one round of .32 ammunition; and 36 12-gauge cartridges.
The Joint Services ranks also unearthed a diary which provided incontrovertible evidence of Rawlins’ planning and execution of the killings at Lusignan and Bartica, a vow to take vengeance for the death of his sister, and a number of telephone numbers.
Further, checks done have confirmed that the three FN Rifles in the cache left behind by the gang were stolen from the Bartica Police Station during the armed attack on that community on February 17; and that the .32 revolver and two of the shotguns belong Chunilall Babulall, a miner, whose home at First Avenue, Bartica was attacked and robbed during that incident. (Michel Outridge)
operandi in Lusignan, Bartica killings differ -
no police statement on link
March 16th. 2008 - Stabroek News
One month after 12 people were shot dead in the small mining township of Bartica, Guyanese are still in the dark as to who carried out that attack. And in the absence of any police statement in relation to ballistics evidence linking the Lusignan killings - thought to be the work of the Buxton/Agricola gunmen - to those in the mining community, some security sources have advanced the hypothesis that a drug-linked gang might have committed the act.
Police, in a statement one day after the killings in Bartica, had noted that the gunmen wore foreign camouflage clothing and from all assessments, the killers seemed well-trained with an abundance of intelligence about the Bartica community. Their motive seemed not only to be murder, since they also raided the business place of Chunilall Baboolall where they stole 12 guns as well as a large quantity of gold and cash.
Information collated from various sources by this newspaper, points to no conclusive link in the modus operandi of the killers at Lusignan and those who stormed Bartica, overrunning a police station and stealing a large number of firearms and gold on the night of February 17. However, President Bharrat had taken the leap in announcing two days after the killings in Bartica that the murderers were the same men who had slaughtered 11 people at Lusignan. At a press conference on Friday, he repeated the statement that the two killings were linked.
The only official ballistics evidence of the Bartica slaughter was provided by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee in the National Assembly earlier this month. Contrary to what Jagdeo had said earlier, Rohee announced that ballistics tests conducted on spent shells found at the crime scene at Bartica firmly established that the same weapons had been used to commit killings and robberies at three other locations last year, namely, Better Hope on August 21, 2007; Sheribana on October 1, 2007 and at Triumph on December 16, 2007. He did not mention the Lusignan slayings of January 26, 2008.
Up to Friday, Stabroek News could not ascertain from the police whether there was any ballistics evidence linking Lusignan and Bartica. When asked about the contradiction between his comments and those of Rohee, Jagdeo told reporters that the minister perhaps inadvertently omitted to mention the Lusignan-Bartica connection, and insisted that the two incidents were linked. The police have not issued any statement on ballistics findings at Bartica, although they had done so shortly after the Lusignan killings. Security officials are of the view that even with ballistics evidence linking guns used at various crime scenes, in a society where criminals rent guns for specific operations the possibility that two different groups were responsible for the killings at the two separate locations could not be ruled out.
Who attacked Bartica?
A senior security official had told Stabroek News that the attack at Bartica might have been a collaborative well-executed plan by drug-linked gunmen operating out of Guyana and neighbouring countries. Stabroek News had been told that certain known shady characters who had links with the drugs trade might have hit hard times and they are believed to be involved in armed robberies. A senior police officer told this newspaper that the force was aware of these reports, but asserted that there was no hard information on the claims. "What we know is that we are looking at everyone, whether you dealing drugs or doing robbery," the officer who asked not be named said. According to the police official, the scale and manner of the slaughter seemed to be more than criminality, and there might be a bigger motive behind it. Authorities had sought to link both to wanted man, Rondell 'Fineman,' Rawlins, who had threatened days prior to the Lusignan killings that he would create mayhem if his pregnant, common-law wife, Tenisha Morgan, was not returned safely after she went missing on January 18. His threats had coincided with the ambushing of an army patrol the same night on the Buxton railway embankment during which time a soldier was killed. Two days later the police headquarters was attacked and early the next day the 11 people were slain at Lusignan.
Several persons were quick to make a connection between Lusignan and Bartica because of the number of people who were killed. However, Brigadier, (Rtd), David Granger said that "What we are looking at is a pattern in which heavily-armed gangsters are capable of creating mayhem." A former national security advisor, Granger told Stabroek News that the pattern of mass killings did not start at Lusignan, noting that it went back as far as the carnage in Agricola, Eccles and the shooting at Kaieteur News printery. He said that criminals seem to have now adopted a new pattern of killing and this may not be peculiar to any one group. It is not the first time that men linked to the drugs trade have been accused of engaging in other criminal activities. Two recent high-profile robberies in the Guyana jungle were said to be the work of drug-linked operatives.
From all reports, the killers at Lusignan announced their arrival with wild shooting, randomly targeting homes where they executed their victims. A relative of the Thomases, one of the families targeted had told this newspaper that the gunmen pushed down their doors and began firing wildly. The relative said the criminals asked no questions. This was the pattern throughout the hour-long rampage in the community. Residents were unanimous that the gunmen escaped via the canefields, a mode typical of the gunmen operating out of Buxton.
Security experts have remarked that it was fair to assume that the killers at Lusignan were linked to the Buxton/Agricola gang since there was ballistics evidence linking weapons used in other attacks allegedly committed by the criminals from those communities.
The police had recovered an AK-47 rifle used in Lusignan slayings when they shot two gunmen during a dusk operation in Buxton a few days after the Lusignan incident. Using ballistics tests, authorities also linked the weapons used at Lusignan to those that killed Agriculture Minister, Satyadeow Sawh, two of his siblings - all three naturalized Canadian citizens - and a security guard in April 2006. The AK-47 rifle, retrieved from gunman Troy St John, was also said to have been used in killing several of the four men, two women, three boys and two girls who died at Lusignan. Police further explained that 35 spent shells found at the Lusignan scene matched 18 other spent shells found at the scene of the April 2006 killing of Sawh, who was also a former Guyana Ambassador to Venezuela.
The gunmen had invaded Sawh's home with almost military precision shortly after he, his brother Rajpat Sawh and sister Pulmattie Persaud had returned from a late-night family function. His wife, who hid in the bathroom, and two sons who were not at home escaped the grisly attack.
At Bartica, the gunmen first attacked the police station, ensuring that the lawmen were immobilized. They proceeded to steal weapons from the station and then moved into the community where they robbed a number of places.
At Lusignan there was clearly no intention to rob the residents. In the case of Bartica, observers believe that apart from the policemen who were killed at the police station the other nine people who were slain might have been in the criminals' way. Six men were lined up and shot dead on the ferry stelling and this occurred as the gunmen were leaving the area. Some residents believe that they were killed because they saw the gunmen's faces and because they were all boatmen who could have easily tracked them down. Several Barticians have pointed to possible links between the criminals and members of their community. Some residents also suggested that some of the killers appeared to be in their late 30s and even 40s. At least one of the gunmen wore a pair of slippers. Killed in the attack were Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; and policemen stationed at the Bartica Police Station, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yaseen; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo; and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara, were shot execution style on the Transport and Harbours Stelling.
St Mary's boat may have been decoy
February 25th 2008 - Stabroek News
As Barticians sift through the details of the horrific February 17 attack, some are coming to the conclusion that the boat found at St Mary's might have been set adrift to mislead investigators and they also believe that some of their own aided the gunmen in a number of ways including providing vehicles.
Though no specific allegation has been made against the three Bartica men picked up by police following the massacre of twelve persons in the community, serious questions are being raised in Bartica about their prior and subsequent movements, particularly in the case of the boat operator.
The three were flown to the city last week and are being grilled by police. Among them are a boat operator and two men who are said to be self-employed. Reports out of Bartica indicate that the men are well known characters due to their previous brushes with the law, which includes narcotic and gun offences in the case of at least two. Shock was reportedly not among the emotions expressed in the community when police arrested the trio.
Sources say they are born and bred Barticans who have apparently been acting suspiciously in the days leading up to and after the attack. One of the men was described by a resident as "a devoted family man of questionable character".
So far there has been no outcry from persons in the community against the men's detention since many persons feel that inside intelligence was instrumental in the attack. One resident told Stabroek News yesterday that it is crucial that the joint services speak with persons in the community in order to re-trace the steps of certain individuals, adding that a few can hardly give a proper account as to where they were on the night of the spine-chilling raid.
Further, he said that private vehicles right in Bartica were used in the attack noting that the gunmen were aided from the minute they got off at the stelling up until they fled by boat.
It is estimated that between fifteen to twenty men carried out the attack and after several days of going over the escape route, sources in Bartica said they could have fled south down the river in two boats - the 75 horse power engine found drifting at St. Mary's, a hinterland community a few miles from Bartica, and a 200 horse power engine boat, according to sources.
Sources said three of the men were left to guard the river while over ten others assaulted the community in the hour-long attack.
When they were leaving, the men reportedly took a few minutes before pulling off in the boats, which the source said, indicates they were doing much of the loading into the bigger boat and were merely throwing a few things into the craft found at St. Mary's.
The gunmen would have continued south to the Sheribana crossing, which is a gateway to the Guyana/Brazil border town of Lethem. A source told this newspaper there are timber trails along the route heading to Sheribana that are used by persons familiar with them, and pointed out that the trails can lead to the Wisroc area where the joint services had carried out an operation shortly after the Bartica attack.
But the source noted that very few persons have expert knowledge of the timber trails area and pointed out that though some are willing to cooperate with the joint services, they are fearful for their lives.
"Believing this is exactly where those guys went then more than likely a confrontation will ensue if the joint services are led to these trails. No ordinary citizen wants to get caught up in that though I am sure people would love to volunteer", the source said.
Since the joint services have not stumbled upon any other evidence suggesting that the men fled south along the river in the direction of Sheribana except for the boat at St. Mary's other sources say that the men may have never used that route but instead fled north after leaving Bartica into the Atlantic. This would mean that they allowed one of the boats to drift off in one direction while they went the opposite way, creating a diversion.
The men could have gone north using the west bank of the river to exit the Essequibo River. It is believed someone with precise knowledge of the river aided the men in navigating under the cover of darkness.
Reposted from Kaieteur News - February 23rd. 2008
Handcuffed and flanked by armed Joint Services ranks, three Bartica residents were yesterday transported to Georgetown to be interrogated about last Sunday’s slaughter of 12 people in the mining community.
Sources identified the suspects as Antonio Devon Jones, called ‘Beaks’ a boat operator; a Bartica farmer known as ‘Rasta Plimpler’ and a third man known as ‘Rogo-Rogo.’
The men, who were being kept at the Bartica Police Station, were first transported to Baganara.
there, they were flown by GDF aircraft to the Ogle Aerodrome, arriving at
around 17:50 hrs, where army and police personnel were waiting.
They were then placed in a police minibus and transported to Georgetown.
Some of the suspects have been in custody since Monday. Investigators have said from the inception that they believe that persons within the mining community provided assistance and information to the gang.
The Joint Services have recovered a boat equipped with a 75-horsepower engine, which was found adrift near St. Mary’s, Essequibo.
The vessel contained some food supplies, weather gear and camouflage clothing. A live round was also found in the vessel.
The gunmen struck shortly after 21:00 hrs last Sunday, starting their killing spree at the Transport and Harbours Stelling, before storming the Bartica Police Station and two business places in First Avenue.
They eventually fled with several firearms and a quantity of ammunition, as well as a large sum of cash.
Four more Bartica Victims laid to rest
As the country continues to mourn the loss of the 12 persons who were slaughtered in Bartica on Sunday last, three more victims were laid to rest - University of Guyana graduate, Abdool Yasseen Jr., Baldeo Singh, Deonarine Singh and Police Constable Shane Fredericks.
Deonarine Singh was buried at Wakenaam.
For each family it was another day of immense sorrow with many still attempting to come to grips with the fact that their loved ones had suffered so senselessly at the hands of cold-hearted criminals.
At the Good Hope, East Coast Demerara home of Abdool Yasseen Jr, it was a chaotic scene as some relatives and friends, overwhelmed with grief, had to be attended to by a doctor who was on hand at the residence throughout the proceedings. There was also an ambulance parked outside of the family's home. Yasseen's mother, Mamzi, stared disbelievingly at her son's lifeless body lying in a box. She was remarkably composed while making a plea for justice to be served. Yasseen's elder brother, Abdool Azeem Yasseen, fainted at the sight of his sibling's body. It was the same for Yasseen's younger sister, Farah.
One person who was friends with Yasseen at the university said, “I can't believe it… he is not dead… that is not the boy I went to UG with, look what they did to him.”
Meanwhile the expressions of anguish were no different at the other two funerals. At the Montrose home of Baldeo Singh, close relatives and a few friends gathered to offer comforting words. Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir and Bishop Juan Edghill were also in attendance. Throughout the sermon the man's only daughter, Anita Singh sat next to his coffin.
Later in the day, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Brickdam was filled with members of the disciplinary forces as they, family members and friends gathered to pay their last respect to police Constable Shane Fredericks. Commander of 'D' Division Lakeraj who spoke on behalf of the Guyana Police Force described Fredericks as a dedicated, a sentiment shared by many of his colleagues.
the sermon Fredericks's body, was transported to Le Repentir Cemetery where
he was honoured with a 21-gun salute.
Why? The expression of the wife of slain Police Corporal Shane Fredericks says it all.
The grieving daughter of Baldeo Singh, Anita (sitting at the head of the coffin) and his sister Pat Singh
Abdool Yasseen's mother being comforted by Yasseen's elder
brother Azeem and sister, Farah. At far left is the dead man's grandmother.
The body of Constable Shane Fredericks being taken to its final resting place.
Lusignan hit by same gang
-suspected getaway boat found
February 20th 2008 - Stabroek News
President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said the killers of the Lusignan 11 were also behind Sunday's slaughter of 12 in Bartica and last night police were chasing leads after a suspected getaway boat was found, resulting in some Linden residents being told to stay indoors as security forces swarmed the area.
Speaking in Bartica after cutting short a visit to New York, Jagdeo told Barticians at the New Modern Hotel "From what I was told there seemed to have been a dual motive: robbery and to kill and create terrorâ€¦We know it is the same group that did it in Lusignan", the Govern-ment Information Agency (GINA) reported. Ballistic information has not yet been released by the police on the Bartica attack and the President did not elaborate in the GINA report.
President Jagdeo said that the only way to "end this" is to pursue the bandits and find them "since you can't reason with people who commit these types of crimes". He assured that the Joint Services would work day after day to find the killers and noted that with the army clearing the backlands of Buxton they do not have that safe haven anymore.
"This is a small group of persons who will strike and move, this is not widespread, but because it is a small group it is easy for them to move around and do this anywhere. As President I can only give the resources and encouragement to the security forces. They â€¦are the people who have to go after the criminals and in this regard they have my full support".
Promising that the army and police presence will be maintained in Bartica while the criminals are hunted, the President said "clearly from what I saw, these people were working with inside knowledge which may indicate that they would have had help from people in Bartica".
The President added "â€¦from the way they went into the police station they knew exactly where everything was. The discussions with the persons who were robbed revealed that they knew where things were even the light switches and the cameras. This was not random they had a lot of intelligence â€¦this was carefully planed.
Security officials on Monday night recovered a speedboat along with ammunition and military-type clothing in the Essequibo River, some 20 miles from Bartica.
The security forces had rushed more troops into the crime-besieged hinterland community of Bartica on Monday evening following Sunday night's bloodbath.
A top joint services official told Stabroek News yesterday that during a search in the Essequibo River on Monday night they found a wooden speedboat with a 75-horse power engine drifting in rough waters at St Mary's, another hinterland community. According to the joint services official, inside the vessel were a .30 carbine round, a toque, two yellow coats, two black long-sleeved shirts, one camouflage hammock and a pair of Guyana Defence Force trousers with the batch number 20361.
The law enforcement official is of the view that the gunmen after wreaking havoc in Bartica escaped via the Sheribana crossing, which is a gateway to the Guyana/Brazil border town of Lethem. The official also admitted that from all indications the gunmen have already cleared out of the Bartica area.
Meanwhile, a large Joint Services operation took place yesterday in Linden and was focused on the Wisroc backlands and the road trail linking Linden and Bartica.
Eyewitnesses told this newspaper a large contingent of military personnel surged through Wisroc, leaving some three hours after. Persons were being advised to stay in their houses to allow the security personnel to do their work.
According to information this newspaper received, a number of men robbed a truck that came out of the interior on Monday night. The men took cash and jewellery from the persons in the truck but no shots were fired.
But speculation is rife that the men might be some from the Bartica massacre. According to information reaching this newspaper, the Joint Services are establishing a presence in the Region Ten community with a view to preventing the gunmen from moving through the area using either river or road networks.
Using speedboats around 20 gunmen on Sunday night stormed the southwestern township of Bartica, located some 80 miles from Georgetown murdering three policemen and nine civilians. The gunmen first attacked a police outpost killing three officers and seriously wounding two others. The gang of gunmen carted off several firearms and ammunition from two strong boxes at the Bartica Police Station and also from a private security firm. The Bartica Police Station was overrun by the gunmen during the rampage and several business places robbed during the hour-long mayhem.
Killed in the attack were Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; policemen stationed at the Bartica Police Station, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne, and Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yasin; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara, who were shot execution style at the Transport and Harbours Stelling.
The slaughter came mere weeks after a similar attack at Lusignan where the number killed was 11, including five children. So far the lawmen have recovered 165 spent shells mainly used in high-powered rifles.
Reposted from Kaieteur News - February 19th. 2008
authorities and other officials are still trying to determine the motive
for another senseless attack by ruthless gunmen, which claimed the lives
of 12 innocent persons in the Bartica community on Sunday night, three weeks
after the January 26 atrocity in Lusignan – an act of barbarism still fresh
in the minds of civil-minded Guyanese.
The premeditated and well calculated act by brazen killers on this occasion mercilessly cut down three policemen and nine civilians.
The dead ranks are: Lance Corporal 18632 Zaheer Zakir of Leonora Housing Scheme, Constable 16906 Shane Fredericks, 35, of Lot 241 Herstelling, East Bank Demerara, and Constable 19886 Ron Osborne, of 189 Robb Street.
Others killed are taxi driver Dexter Adrian, 37, of 581 Constellation Street, Tucville; Orvin Ferreira, a 72-year-old security guard employed at CB&R Mining Enterprise in First Avenue, Bartica; Abdool Yassin Jr., of Good Hope, East Coast Demerara; boat Captain Deonarine Singh, 54, of Maria’s Pleasure, Wakenaam; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, and Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu, Soesdyke/Linden Highway, all employees of Boodhoo’s General Store; and Banks DIH security guard Irwin Gilkes, 42, of Bartica; Ashraf Ally Khan, 45, of Middlesex, Essequibo Coast, and another Banks DIH employee, Baldeo Singh, 54, of 153 Second Street, Montrose, East Coast Demerara.
Several others, including Police Constables 20219 Mark Campbell, 29, of One Mile, Linden, and 20231 Chester Benjamin, 28, of Goed Fortuin Housing Scheme, were also injured in the 60-minute rampage.
Raymond White, Godfrey Patanello, Brazilian National Jadarson Dos Santos, 14, Lisa Narine, 15, and Melrose Allicock of Bartica, complete the list of injured. Dos Santos was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital while the others were treated and sent away.
A Joint Services release has informed that 165 spent shells of 7.62 x 39 calibre, eight 7.62 x 51 spent shells, three .32 spent shells along with eleven 7.62 x 39 and 15 .32 live rounds have been recovered so far.
Scores of relatives converged at the Ogle Aerodrome yesterday morning hoping to get a glimpse of their loved ones. Most of them were hoping that their worst fears would not have been confirmed. However, they were hit with the harsh reality of the situation later in the morning when they identified the bodies at the Lyken Funeral Parlour. Heavy wailing followed immediately after the viewing of the bodies by the throng of relatives outside the parlour.
Ashraf Ally Khan’s wife, Juliet, said that she received a call at around
02:00 hours yesterday informing her that her husband had been brutally killed.
According to Mrs. Khan, she refused to believe what she heard, but asked another relative to travel to the city to investigate.
Mrs. Khan said that her brother-in-law travelled to Georgetown at first
light and was also greeted with the news of the brutal slaying by relatives
of the other deceased.
waiting at the Ogle Aerodrome for almost an hour, she said, her brother-in-law
was advised to visit the Lyken Funeral Parlour, where relatives would be
able to identify the deceased.
Fighting to hold back tears, the woman said that her brother-in-law finally called at around noon yesterday saying that is was indeed her husband who was among those slaughtered.
Mrs. Khan said that her husband, who was the only breadwinner for the home, had been employed at Banks DIH Limited for the past five years.
her, she last saw her husband during the first week of this month when he
left for Bartica where he was stationed.
The grieving woman added that her husband was expected back home tomorrow (Wednesday). Khan is survived by his wife and three children.
Joan Rowe, mother of slain taxi driver Dexter Adrian, was unable to control her emotions, and had to be aided by other relatives and friends after seeing her son’s body at the parlour.
Rowe was too overcome with grief to speak to Kaieteur News. Adrian, a father of two, was killed in his car.
Constable Fredericks’s wife, Indira, also needed assistance to cope with the loss of her husband. She eventually told Kaieteur News that her husband, a father of one, was a very nice person. She added that he had been a police officer since he was about 18 years old.
Gilkes’s nephew, Wendell Nurse, described him as the most peaceful person in Bartica.
Nurse added that Gilkes, a father of one, had been employed at Banks DIH as a security guard for several years.
Deonarine Singh, known as ‘Bigga’, 55, of Maria’s Pleasure, was employed at Boodhoo’s General Store as captain on a vessel called the Little Giants, which transported furniture and goods from Parika to Bartica.
Singh was the sole breadwinner for his family.
The atmosphere outside the parlour yesterday was poignant, with relatives huddled together amidst cries of agony.
Meanwhile, the relatives of Baldeo Singh told this newspaper that he was last seen earlier in the week. However, having heard of the incident, relatives said, they had already prepared for the worst.
“When we wake up, right away we turn on de TV, and as soon as I hear that is a Banks DIH boat, right away me seh he dead,” a relative said.
The man’s family told Kaieteur News that, after viewing the aftermath of the night’s events, they decided to check with the Lyken Funeral Home, where they finally confirmed that Singh was among those slaughtered.
Over in Good Hope, relatives of Abdool Yassin Jr. were also overwhelmed with grief. Relatives said Yassin had recently graduated from the University of Guyana, and decided to give up furthering his studies to take care of his mother and two other siblings. Only last year, relatives said, Yassin lost his father, and the family is still mourning that loss and are now forced to deal with yet another death in the family. Friends who gathered at Yassin’s Good Hope residence were heard lamenting what a hard working person he was and how dedicated he was to taking care of his two sisters and widowed mother.
“Since he finish UG he go and wuk. He does hardly deh home, he all about looking after he family,” a friend recounted.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman Holbert Knights could only use the words 'cold-blooded executions' to describe Sunday night’s mayhem.
From his understanding, Knights said, the gunmen came by boat, landed at the Transport and Harbours Department Ferry Stelling, and immediately attacked the crewmen of two boats moored there at the time. “They ordered six of the crewmen (three each from the two boats) to lie face down on the stelling, and they cold bloodedly executed them. Almost all of them had a single bullet wound to the head.”
Knights told Kaieteur News that the next target of the gunmen was the Bartica Police Station -- a stone’s throw away -- where they left three ranks dead and two wounded. One of the latter was seriously injured with gunshot wounds to his chest, while the other was shot in his arms and hip.
During the attack, the gunmen blasted their way into the living quarters of the police station, cornering two unarmed ranks and cold-bloodedly murdering them in the kitchen area. One was shot in the head once, while the other had multiple gunshot wounds about the body.
After the police station, one of the gunmen approached the security guard at the nearby Guyana Gold Board office. The guard mistook the gunman for a police rank and was in the process of identifying himself when he was shot in his buttocks. He went to the hospital insisting that he was shot by a police rank, but upon investigation realized that it was a gunman dressed as a police who had shot him.
Leaving the police station and heading south along First Avenue, the men unleashed a barrage of gunfire, hitting the security guard at the Banks DIH outlet located obliquely to the police station. He succumbed about an hour later at the Bartica Regional Hospital.
The onslaught continued along First Avenue, with the brazen gunmen in a police vehicle firing randomly at houses and vehicles. Fifteen-year-old student Lisa Narine, who was selling confectionery, was grazed by a bullet after she went on her knees in a plea for her life. The gunmen then continued to the head office of CB&R Mining. There, they represented themselves to the security guard on duty as police officers, and he opened the gate to the business premises. Once inside, they ordered him to open the door to the business. He could not, as he was not in possession of the keys. They kicked the door open, and once inside, they shot up the security cameras, removed the disc from the monitor, and executed the guard. He had a single gunshot wound to the head. They ransacked the building and took away two safes, one containing in excess of four million in cash, representing the payroll for workers.
They also emptied one containing 11 firearms (the property of CB&R Mining). While at CB&R, a bullet hit teenaged Brazilian Jadarson Dos Santos in his leg. Melrose Allicock was also shot.
Unfortunately, at around the same time, taxi driver Dexter Adrian pulled up at the location to purchase fuel, and he was fatally shot. His passenger, Raymond White, was also shot in both of his arms and legs.
The gunmen then proceeded to another place of business, heading further south along First Avenue, where, in an attempt to enter the building, they broke three windows with a sledgehammer. Realizing that immediately after the windows there was a wall, they broke a hole large enough in the wall for one bandit to pass through. That individual entered the building and opened the front door from the inside, allowing his accomplices entry. The house was riddled and ransacked. The family members, comprising a husband, wife and their three children, had already secured themselves at another location.
After leaving the second business place, the attackers proceeded in the police vehicle into Fourth Avenue, which is relatively far away from First Avenue, to the residence of the Officer in Charge of the station, and attempted to call him out of the house, but he was fortunately not at home.
Getting no response, the gunmen released a volley of shots into the air and left.
They returned to the Transport and Harbours Department stelling from whence they came, parked the vehicle with the engine running, and left in a speedboat, leaving in their wake eleven innocent persons dead. At about 02:00hrs on Monday, five persons were air dashed to the capital city, but one succumbed on the way – the twelfth victim. He was the sixth crew member who was shot in the head.
Immediately after the wounded started arriving at the Georgetown Public Hospital, that medical institution was turned into a communication base from which contacts were established with the army and the police between Georgetown and Bartica.
Personnel from the GDF arrived at Bartica at about 23:45 hrs and secured the area. They were joined by ranks of the Joint Services at approximately midnight, after a plane touched down at Baganara, on the other side of the Essequibo River from Bartica.
By that time the bandits were long gone.
There was widespread condemnation of Sunday night’s atrocity, yesterday, with the major political parties expressing their disgust in strongly worded statements.
The ruling party, the PPP/C denounced, “the brutal massacre of 12 unsuspecting people.”
It also said that, as in the Lusignan killings, the latest assault was intended to engender terror and fear in society.
What was emphasised in the PPP/C’s release was the fact that three police ranks were killed so quickly after the ambush of a GDF soldier, illustrating that the killers were targeting agents of the law.
“All Guyanese must see this as an attack on all peace-loving and democratic persons in our country.
As such, the nation must give its full support to the security forces and efforts to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators of these acts. Our men and women in uniform must be assured of our nation’s support at this time.”
The party extended deepest sympathy to the people of Bartica, to the Guyana Police Force, and to the families, relatives and friends of all the deceased.
PNCR Leader Robert Corbin led a team to Bartica that included party Vice-Chairperson Volda Lawrence, Amna Ally, Keith Scott, and Judith David-Blair, among others.
The party’s delegation visited the homes of those killed and conveyed the condolences of the party to their families and relatives.
The PNCR opined that the slayings are a clear indication that the security situation in Guyana has rapidly deteriorated and there is need for a definite and comprehensive plan of action to arrest the current security situation.
This sentiment was echoed by the Alliance For Change (AFC) as well as the Guyana Action Party (GAP) who, through a joint statement, said that the slaughter of innocent Guyanese at Lusignan, and more recently Bartica, was indicative of the emergence of a group or groups with the capacity and capabilities to challenge the authority of the state.
The party, in a release, pointed out that what was clear with the Bartica slayings, “Is that nothing has been put in place by the Government or the security services to effectively prevent the occurrence of such acts…What is even more alarming is that these attacks on innocent Guyanese could occur again with such facility and without interruption.”
The parties contend that the country’s, “intelligence-gathering capabilities and agencies have been outfoxed, out-manoeuvred and out-gunned as in the last three weeks no arrests or significant inroads into the gang or gangs have been made by the security forces, and we continue to ask, “How many more?”
The party also noted that the nation is again reminded of calls on the President, as head of state, and on the Government of Guyana to put forward a national security strategy to address the ‘unorthodox and unusual security situation.’
“The Security Sector Reform Action Plan (SSRAP), to which the PPP Government refers as The Plan, is but one part of a national security strategy.”
The parties once again emphasised that it was imperative that the Government, all political parties, civil society and other stakeholders be engaged immediately to finalise and implement a security strategy which would provide a level of confidence to better secure the protection and well-being of citizens across the length and breadth of Guyana, and to bring to justice those responsible for these criminal acts.
Meanwhile, the PNCR said, it hoped that the Government, “will face reality, treat this situation as a matter of national emergency, and seek to achieve a national consensus on crime and security in Guyana.”
The party added that it was of the view that the present situation demands strategic policy formulation and the development of a suitable programme for its implementation.
“At the level of policy formulation, an approach that includes all political parties, civil society and other stakeholders is needed.”
Meanwhile, the Office of the President, in a release yesterday, stated that President Bharrat Jagdeo will meet with national stakeholders at his office today in light of the prevailing security situation.
He has invited representatives of the private sector, labour movement, inter-religious organisations and leaders of Parliamentary political parties to this meeting.
Alex Wayne in Bartica
motive was robbery, intimidation or terrorising the community, all were
achieved in one dastardly act that lasted for more than an hour, plunging
most of Region Seven into an intense state of fear and mourning.
Yesterday, when Kaieteur News arrived at Bartica, most of the businesses were closed and the same held for most of the eight schools in the area, while only 13 percent attendance was recorded at Bartica Secondary.
Up to news time, there was a heavy army and police presence, and the pockets of people gathered in the streets and avenues spoke in hushed tones while looking over their shoulders.
“This is the worst tragedy ever in the Bartica community’s history!” This was the opinion of Regional Chairman Holbert Knights when speaking of Sunday night’s slaughter of 12 innocent people. “I cannot recall a situation where even a civilian had fatally shot another person in Bartica, let alone gunmen killing 12 persons here in such a fashion.
“Sunday’s killing has shattered the whole notion that we are relatively safer than the coastland because of our geography. We have always believed that the escape routes are very limited, but the thought has been brutally shattered, especially with the ease with which the more than a dozen gunmen held Bartica at siege before escaping without anyone being caught, wounded, or even killed on their side.”
On his feet since the night before, Knights related that the entire Region Seven is in shock and disbelief, and people are openly expressing fears of experiencing worse.
Three police ranks were among those cut down by bullets: Constable Ron Osborne, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constable Shane Fredericks.
The crewmen who lost their lives are: -- from Boodhoo’s vessel: Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes. Dead from a Banks DIH vessel are Abdool Yasin Jr, Ashraf Ally Khan, and Baldeo Singh.
Also dead are taxi driver Dexter Adrian; Edwin Gilkes, a security guard of Banks DIH, and Orvin Ferreira, a security guard at CB&R Mining.
There were eight persons injured, including two policemen, Mark Campbell and Chester Benjamin. The others are teenagers Lisa Narine and Brazilian Jadarson Dos Santos, and Guyanese Raymond Whyte, Melrose Allicock and Godfrey Paternella.
Regional Chairman Knights, while expressing the community’s distraught state, explained that the situation has exposed what Barticians have been taking for granted for so long -- the general feeling that, “… the recent crime situation had nothing to do with us (Barticians).”
“The regional administration is working with all stakeholders to ensure that immediate plans are put in place to guarantee the safety of citizens and to help those who suffered losses and injuries in whatever way possible, and continue to encourage the citizens to look ahead as together we deal with the situation. The hospital has since set up a unit to counsel those who were affected by the tragedy,” Knights said.
The Regional Chairman stated that he has no clue of the motive for the massacre, but he noted that the gunmen knew their targets and exactly what they were going for.
Bartica once known as the gateway to the interior and home to a population that is close to 20,000 is a village of seven avenues and nine streets. A religious community where mostly miners dwell with their families it is described as closely knit where major crimes are mainly stabbing incidents with minimal cases of fatalities as a result of criminality.
It is known also for the Easter Regatta when boaters take on each other for top honours and a beauty queen is crowned annually. But now less than a month after eleven persons were massacred at Lusignan gunmen turned their killing rampage to the quiet community on the Essequibo River.
Though residents never imagined that it would as they are geographically too far away from the many criminal happenings on the Coast, the specter of death of the worst kind has visited leaving them in mourning for friends, family, relatives and security officials.
As at yesterday the general consensus of residents from First Avenue to the four miles road was that “Bartica will never be the same again.”
One guest at a hotel close-by related that “The shooting start about 9:30 and from then to about an hour and a half after it was bare shots licking like movie style.” Most residents upon hearing the rapid gunfire that lasted for more than an hour said they spent the night on the floor hoping that their home would not be attacked.
“I ain’t sleep a wink till now. When the gunshots started I grab me children and hit the floor and prayed like I never did before. At one point I thought that the men were coming in me house as the sound of shots got closer. I never got up to see anything till me phone ring and people tell me that people dead and the shooting done,” one woman said.
The police station that offered a sense of security to the residents is now a crime scene and is void of five of the familiar faces. Three of its ranks lay dead and two others injured.
The new scene yesterday was one where the security is the Joint Services on patrol and foot through some streets and in limited vehicles.
All matters slated for the court housed in the same compound as the police station were postponed until a date to be announced and visits to the eight schools on the mainland village proved that schools were mostly unattended.
When Kaieteur News visited the Bartica Secondary school teachers were in discussions while some served as councilors for others who were visibly moved to tears. One student from that school is nursing a gunshot wound to her knee after she knelt and begged for her life as the gunmen passed by her home.
Some openly expressed fears of going anywhere alone as well as some have decided that late night walks and hangs at the beach front are over.
Regional Chairman Knights said that the people’s main concern is that the gunmen might be hiding out on one of the nearby islands awaiting another opportunity to strike. Some openly stated that “nothing can make us comfortable at present. “We are willing to support whatever the Joint Services decide to do but right now we want to sleep again,” one man said. To some it’s just a bad dream that they can’t wake up from. Some fear that the gunmen are still close by even as the Joint services was late last night mounting some serious patrols.
Reports from police sources indicate that the gunmen after their killing spree removed a sizable sum of arms and ammunition that were the property of the Guyana Police Force as well as some weaponry that belonged to miners.
It was clear that Sunday’s blitzkrieg on Bartica by heavily armed gunmen was intended to murder and rob, residents of that Region 7 area say.
From the time the attack was launched, after 21:45 hrs when Guyanese were glued to their television sets watching Guyana’s thrilling match-up with Antigua in the Stanford 20/20, it was evident that the gunmen had only one thing in their minds: bloody mayhem.
And it was clear that the entire assault was well planned, both in terms of logistics and timing.
Yesterday, the shock was still on the faces of Barticians as they stood on the streets recounting the murderous rampage which left 12 people dead and two in the hospital.
At the two business places robbed, where the gunmen seemed to have been focused on all along, the bullet holes, a wrecked car and broken windows told the tale.
After attacking the Bartica Police Station, some of the gunmen went south down First Avenue, shooting and killing several persons before turning their attention to the CB&R Mining Enterprise owned by Chunilall Babulall, called “Vulture”.
There, they took security guard Orvin Ferreira, 72, entered the premises and broke down the outer office door. In the office, the gunmen placed Ferreira on a freezer and executed him by firing a shot in his head before letting off a few rounds at the security camera, damaging it beyond repair.
The men then smashed their way into an inner office, where they took two safes. A third safe was opened, and according to the manager, Ganga Persaud, 11 guns, including shotguns and three handguns, were taken. A large quantity of ammunition was also taken away.
Babulall was unable to speak much yesterday and was in a state of shock.
According to officials of the company, the guns and ammunition were allocated to the security service for Babulall’s mining establishment.
Taking the security tapes of CB&R’s cameras, the gunmen then went a little further down the road to gold dealer Gurudat “Mangoman” Singh, where after firing several shots at the home, shattering windows, the men entered the yard, and using a large sledge hammer — later confiscated by police — smashed open the vent blocks of a concrete wall. From there the men entered the home and methodically ransacked it. According to Singh, hearing the noises of the men breaking into his home, he took his wife and daughter to hide in an altar room. The gunmen passed the little prayer cubicle several times but were not aware that the businessman was hiding there.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like. One of the men asked for a torchlight, and then another said for them to leave. If they had found us, we would have all been dead,” said Singh, breaking down in tears. The businessman disclosed that the men escaped with two attaché cases with personal documents, including house papers and birth certificates.
According to Singh, the attack on his family’s home is the last straw, and with his relatives abroad, he is prepared to just “book” his ticket and leave Guyana. The man would not confirm how much gold was taken.
Yesterday, official sources said that several issues are being examined, including the fact that the men were able to manoeuvre a boat in the dangerous Essequibo River at night when the water was rough. That apart, the men’s familiarity with the operations of the businesses strongly indicate that someone had provided the gunmen with information known only to the employees of the businesses, or to a resident of Bartica.
Murderous rampage stuns Bartica
By Gaulbert Sutherland Tuesday, February 19th 2008 - Stabroek News
Bartica reeled yesterday, stunned at the murders of 12 persons including three policemen in the Region Seven community by heavily-armed gunmen, who, in a well planned attack, also stole a quantity of guns and ammunition on Sunday night.
As residents cowered in their homes, fearful for their lives, the gunmen took over the mining community for just over an hour and in a blitz of deadly bullets began a reign of terror and death. Concentrating mainly on the community's commercial area at First Avenue, at the end of the strafing, several persons lay dead, some shot in the head execution style.
Dead are Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; policemen stationed at the Bartica Police Station, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne, and Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yasin; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara, who were shot execution style at the Transport and Harbours Stelling.
Dressed in military type clothing and in bulletproof vests and armed with rapid-fire guns, the gunmen, who residents estimated numbered around 20 descended first upon the Bartica Police Station in a well-planned attack. The police said some of the gunmen were dressed in foreign camouflage and khaki clothing and some residents said they also appeared to be wearing helmets. After the incident the police said that 165 spent shells of 7.62 x 39 calibre, eight 7.62 x 51 spent shells, three .32 spent shells along with eleven 7.62 x 39 and fifteen .32 live rounds were recovered.
In the light of day yesterday, the community seemed like a ghost town, except for First Avenue, which buzzed with activity, as residents congregated to discuss the horrifying incident.
Stores, shops and other businesses remained closed yesterday and schools were empty. In disbelief that such an incident could occur in their laid-back community, many struggled to come to grips with the tragedy. While many of the persons killed were not permanent residents of the tightly-knit community, for those that were, the memories flowed. Emphasizing the precision of the attack and the gunmen's knowledge of the community, residents felt that that among the gunmen were persons who knew the community well.
Upon entering the community, the base for miners leaving to search for gold in the country's interior, the gunmen struck first at the Bartica Police Station. Zakir, Fredericks and Osborne were on duty and were shot in the inquiries office. Constables Mark Campbell and Chester Benjamin were wounded in the attack. Campbell sustained a gunshot wound to his upper left side while Benjamin was shot in both hands and in the right hip. At the station, the gunmen broke into the steel strong box and took away several guns and a quantity of ammunition. One of the firearms has been recovered, the police said.
The gunmen also broke into another safe that contained $65,450, which they took and then grabbed the keys for the police Land Rover.
They then left the station and shooting indiscriminately took the life of 47-year-old Edwin Gilkes, the security guard at the Banks DIH outlet at First Avenue, which is located close to the Bartica Police Station. Also shot and injured was Melrose Allicock of Bartica Housing Scheme to whom Gilkes was reportedly speaking at the time. Fifteen-year-old Lisa Narine, who was selling at a nearby stand, was also shot in her left foot.
The gunmen then descended upon the CBR Mining Company, further up First Avenue and shot 72-year-old security guard, Irving Ferreira even as he attempted to flee. The man met his death while trying to hide in a freezer and was then shot in the head by the gunmen. Showing awareness of the security arrangements, the killers also shot at a security camera. Once inside the building, the gunmen broke into a safe and removed 11 guns: six shotguns and five .32 pistols and a quantity of ammunition. Police said that the gunmen also took away two safes containing gold, jewellery and cash.
"The joint services and police have to do more work," Chunilall Babulall, owner of the company said even as he described the incident as "a tragic blow to Bartica and its environs". Babulall was not home at the time of the incident.
'Riddled him with bullets'
Just as the killers were arriving at the mining company, 38-year-old taxi-driver and miner, Dexter Adrian, of One and a Half Miles, Bartica-Potaro Road was heading there to purchase gas for his car. He was shot while in the vehicle and died on the spot. His reputed wife Sheleza Khan told reporters that he had left home to drop off a girl and had also picked up a neighbour, Raymond White. White was also shot and is a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital. Adrian was just opposite the CBR Mining Company when the gunmen pulled up in the police Land Rover and shot him dead. "They riddled him with bullets, they riddled his body," Khan stated.
After their deadly strike at the mining company, the bandits turned their attention to the home of a businessman and broke into the heavily-grilled home of Gurudat Singh, a gold dealer of First Avenue, a short distance away from the company. Firing their weapons and then using a sledge-hammer, they broke a window and knocked out part of a concrete grill to gain access to the home. Singh said that the gunmen took away two attachÃ© cases containing, among other items, some documents. The emotional man said he and four family members hid in a small prayer room as the gunmen ransacked the house, seeking them. Before breaking down in tears the man said that the gunmen called out "Mango Man", which is the name that he is popularly known by.
At a nearby hotel, a 14-year-old Brazilian national, whom the police identified as Jadarson Dos Santos was shot and injured in his right foot after he was hit by a bullet that penetrated the wall of the hotel.
The gunmen then passed by the Guyana Gold Board Office where they shot at the security guard Godfrey Patanello of Fifth Avenue. He received wounds to his buttocks.
They then returned up the road to the Transport and Harbours Stelling, where they abandoned the vehicle and confronted the five men at the stelling. The gunmen then left by boat.
"Bartica people should open our eyes to what the bandits can do," one resident stated adding that Barticans were a "laid-back" and it was time to take other precautions.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after visiting the Singh's residence, Opposition Leader Robert Corbin expressed shock and dismay. He said the incidents show the level of sophistication of the killers, adding that what was required was "a comprehensive and equally sophisticated policy". He noted that it was significant that during the rampage the bandits took away more guns. He said that even though there were "warning signs" since five years ago, nothing much had been done. He offered his "unreserved cooperation and advice to the government".
Alliance For Change (AFC) leader Raphael Trotman while expressing his sorrow to the relatives of the slain persons declared, "we are seeing the beginnings of a kind of insurgency". Describing the attack as "urban guerilla warfare", he expressed concern that such incidents could be replicated in other places. "We have a security crisis," he asserted adding that what is needed is a "counter-insurgency plan" and called for all leaders to come together.
Additionally, a party of government ministers also visited the relatives of those killed and offered their comfort.
Recounting the events of the fateful night at Ferreira's 83 Second Avenue home, a relative, who asked not to be identified, told Stabroek News that while watching the cricket match they heard the rapid gunfire and turned off the lights and lay low. "The sound kept coming closer and closer", the relative said. The house is located close to Singh's residence and the relative said that they could hear the gunmen using expletives a lot as they attempted to break into the Singh's home. She said that after the gunmen found that they could not break into the home they called to a person waiting in a vehicle outside and then used the sledgehammer and knocked out the concrete grill. She said that the gunmen were there for about 20 minutes and then left to go back up the road. Soon after the incident another relative went to the scene and saw Irving Ferreira dead in a pool of blood but because of their fright they did not venture out until morning. "The motive was not robbery, it was murder," the relative stated. Ferreira is survived by seven children and his reputed wife, who was not there at the time but had gone to Georgetown because another daughter was ill.
Meanwhile, John Mitchell, the person in charge of security at the Banks DIH outlet in Bartica, where Gilkes was killed recalled hearing gunshots at his home in Ninth Street and hearing the vehicle being driven up and down the street. Mitchell said that Gilkes worked with him for nine years and described him as a "very, very good worker".
At a relatives' home at Bartica, Gilkes' wife, Debra, though in deep shock, was recovering after being admitted to the Bartica Hospital earlier in the day. She and her husband had resided at the Four Miles Housing Scheme.
She said her sister delivered the news of her husband's death. She said that he was shot several times including in the stomach area. "They very wrong to kill me husband," the grieving woman stated. They had been married since 2002. Gilkes is also survived by two children.
Throughout the day, the presence of the joint services was boosted up in the area and Stabroek News understands that up to last evening, after receiving information, a patrol had left to go to an island in the Essequibo River on an operation.
Security officials clueless after Bartica mayhem
By Nigel Williams Tuesday, February 19th 2008 - Stabroek News
The Bartica Police Station yesterday morning. (Photo by Gaulbert Sutherland)
The savage attack on the Bartica community on Sunday night has left security officials reeling and there has been no statement by the police on who might have been behind it.
Using speedboats around 20 gunmen on Sunday night stormed the southwestern township of Bartica, located some 80 miles from Georgetown. When they left, by the same means, 12 people lay dead and seven others wounded.
In its first statement since the Sunday night incident, the joint services said yesterday evening that several teams of law enforcement officials had been dispatched to the area and are conducting security operations and investigations.
A top official in the security forces told Stabroek News yesterday that the attack might have been a collaborative well-executed plan by foreign criminals aided by their Guyanese counterparts. According to the official, who asked not to be named, the scale and manner of the slaughter seemed to be more than criminality, and there might be a bigger motive behind it.
area at the Transport and Harbours stelling where the five workers
were shot execution style. (Photo by Gaulbert Sutherland)
Meanwhile, Brigadier (Rtd) David Granger told Stabroek News in an interview yesterday that the gunmen who carried out the mass killings at Bartica seemed to have declared war against + the state's security. He blamed the mayhem on the lack of a comprehensive national security plan to address deteriorating crime, which started seven years ago.
Hundreds of Barticians yesterday stood at street corners lamenting the brutish slaughter on Sunday night. There has been no major policy statement by the Bharrat Jagdeo administration, although the Government Information Agency has announced that Jagdeo would be meeting with stakeholders on Tuesday. (See page 3) There have also been calls for the administration to declare a limited state of emergency.
Since the notorious 2002 prison break, which ushered in a crime wave never experienced in this country before, security here has deteriorated rapidly and despite numerous calls from political and civic groups for the government to implement a national security strategy not much has been done. Over recent years there had been numerous security projects, but Granger said no one-off security project would solve the crime crisis Guyana was now engulfed in.
He said the British three million Pounds sterling project, the Citizens' Security and the Crime Stoppers programmes were just what they are called - projects and not a plan. "What we need is a plan which would address all the needs of the security forces so that in a crisis like the one in Bartica there would be a professional response based on sound intelligence," Granger said. Opposition parties had been calling on the administration to implement a security plan, but the government has insisted that the British project was the plan.
Granger said that Sunday night's mass killings at Bartica and the January 26 murders at Lusignan had further exposed the weaknesses of the security forces. "What we are looking at is a pattern in which heavily-armed gangsters are capable of creating mayhem and are ruining the state," Granger, a former national security advisor told Stabroek News. According to him the pattern of mass killings did not start at Lusignan, noting that it went back as far as the carnage in Agricola, Eccles and the shooting at Kaieteur News printery.
Noting that to all of these killings the security forces' response had been dismal, Granger said. "Imagine these men carried out a major attack and until now not one of them had been arrested."
Granger said that this latest attack demonstrated the serious crisis facing the security forces at present. "They badly lacked intelligenceâ€¦how is it that these men were able to move around with vessels and no one saw them or heard about their plans?" Granger asked. He said it would be incredible if the same group that murdered the people at Lusignan was responsible for the killings in Bartica. "That would be a very serious indictment on the security forces if the gunmen were able to move from the East Coast to south-west of the country undetected." The former army officer said that the security forces needed a stronger maritime wing and their aerial capacity had to be strengthened.
Last week President Jagdeo announced that he was giving the military $1 billion to retool. Asked what could be fuelling the terror being unleashed by the criminals, Granger said that the gunmen have assessed the security forces and have realised that they do not have the capacity to challenge them. "The gangsters are indeed a threat to state security, but not only that they are challenging the state."
Granger believes that the administration should take urgent steps to conduct inquiries to determine the root causes of this uprising. He said after seven years of gang violence in this country no one knew for sure why it was happening. "We are all unaware of what is going on and what was driving this because there had been no inquiry no inquests."
He added that the assassination of former agriculture minister Satyadeow Sawh, his relatives and security guard, should have caused the administration to conduct inquiries into these killings. "There have been no inquiries so no one knows why these things are happening and when and where the gunmen would attack next," he said.
He emphasized that the lack of a comprehensive security plan was opening the floodgates to not only mass killings, but also fuel smuggling, drugs trafficking and illegal arms trade.
12 at Bartica Large gang came by river,
attacked police station, fired wildly, three cops among dead
By Nigel Williams and Miranda La Rose Monday, February 18th 2008 - Stabroek News
Gunmen last night slaughtered around a dozen persons in a major assault on Bartica reminiscent of the Lusignan massacre and the dead included at least three policemen, reports this morning said.
The hour-long strafing which saw the criminals overrunning the Bartica Police Station and residents locking up in their homes raises major questions about the aims of the gunmen and the ability of the security forces to respond.
While it was difficult to obtain precise information on the chaos that ensued, Stabroek News has been able to confirm as best as possible the names of some of the dead. They are: Edwin Gilkes of Banks DIH/Citizens Bank's premises on First Avenue; Mervin Ferreira, a guard of CBR Mining and Marcus Gonsalves, a teller of Citizen's Bank whose body was found in his car on First Avenue. The surnames of the dead policemen have been given as Osbourne, Zakir and Fredericks.
Also among the dead are five persons who had slung up their hammocks on the wharf reportedly awaiting transportation to go about their business. They were gunned down in the wild firing that occurred as terror gripped the gateway to the interior. The five are believed to be employees of Budhoo's General Store. Two policemen and several other injured persons were to be transported this morning to the Georgetown Hospital via Baganara.
Commander of E&F Division, Gavin Primo told reporters last night that his information at the time was that sometime around 9:40 pm gunmen stormed the police station located at First Avenue, Bartica. At around 10:45 pm when he was contacted, Primo said that the gunmen had by then moved down several streets and were shooting indiscriminately.
A resident of Second Avenue told Stabroek News via telephone that he and several of his friends were on the road liming when the gunmen attacked. The man said that they fled the scene, some of his friends lodging at his home as fear and panic swept the community. "They moved from the police station to different streets. It was sheer gunshots here," the man who asked not be named said. Another resident of Second Avenue told Stabroek News that it was chaos. "Everybody locked down right now I am not sleeping on my bed tonight," the female resident told Stabroek News around 10:30 pm. She said in the general vicinity of First, Second and Third Avenues there are about 1000 residents.
The attack forced the government this morning to postpone the reading of the national budget today and Chairman of Region Seven, Holbert Knights said that his constituency is shocked at the scale of the massacre.
A joint services team was rushed into the area late last night and at around midnight they were said to have secured the community but it appeared that the gunmen had long escaped. Sporadic gunshots were heard several hours after the gunmen had completed their attack, but it was unclear as to who was involved. Stabroek News was told that the gunmen arrived in the area around 9:40 pm by boats and they departed in similar fashion. According to reports once the gunmen touched down in Bartica they stormed the police station, shooting to death three policemen. They also escaped with the police's firearms and reportedly freed prisoners who were locked up in the station's lock-ups.
They also took away the vehicle assigned to the police station after which they went on a rampage terrorising the community which is normally quiet on a Sunday evening and more so by a steady downpour while residents were watching the 20/20 match between Guyana and Antigua
Once the men had subdued the police station they proceeded to rampage through the community, letting off a barrage of gunfire at persons on the streets. Knights told Stabroek News this morning that the gunmen moved down the streets of First, Second and Third Avenues and also the housing scheme.
Knights said that eyewitnesses counted around 20 gunmen - similar to the band that stormed Lusignan. Asked about the impact of the carnage on his constituency, Knights said that it was impossible to assess at the moment. "We can't even begin to pick up the pieces, this is most incredible. No one would have thought about this," the Regional Chairman commented.
Meanwhile, the joint services last night rushed troops into the area from Ogle Aerodrome. Stabroek News was told that the ranks were dropped off at Baganara Island and ferried across to Bartica by speed boat. A businessman in the community told Stabroek News last night that it was impossible for any aircraft to land at the Bartica airstrip because of its deplorable state.
Residents, including the PNCR-1G MP Judith David said that since the ordeal started everyone stayed indoors, fearing to go outside. Neighbours telephoned and exchanged bits of information and shared their own experiences.
Through this networking, she said that reports were that 12 persons were shot dead and a number of persons injured.
Reports, too, were that many people had been making their way to the hospital but she said she was unable to contact the medex.
Residents said they also heard when a boat pulled out and everything was quiet thereafter.
At about 11:40 they said that they heard aircraft circling the township.
The hospital was also very busy when this newspaper called shortly after mid-night.
One resident said she was in the Voice of Faith Miracle ministries church at about 9:30 pm when she heard a commotion and thought that Guyana had won the cricket match and people were celebrating. However, someone telephoned telling her that the police station was being shot at. Worshippers hurriedly left for the safety of their homes and wherever they could find refuge.
With everyone warned she said they heard people screaming as shots were fired and smoke and light from the shots were visible coming mainly from the First Avenue area. She said that bullets grazed the roof of her home as well. Neighbours telephoning each other in the aftermath of the shooting said that a number of windows were smashed.
"Look where they come now. It sounded like when they got war. You hear the machine guns rattling off. I never frighten so," she said adding that "when the bullets go off I lie down on the floor." She was alone at home at this time.
A man who lived at Fourth Avenue who was also watching the 20/20 match with his family said that they heard the exchange of gunfire and heard it coming closer to them. They turned off their lights and all hit the floor.
Commissioner of Police, Henry Greene could not be reached for a comment last night or early this morning on the attack.
A statement released by the Government Information Agency this morning said that Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds performing the functions of President, has announced that today's sitting of the National Assembly, at which the Minister of Finance was scheduled to present the national budget for 2008, would be postponed until further notice in light of the tragic events in Bartica last night. The Prime Minister also indicated that the security forces had mounted an immediate response to the situation and that a number of Ministers and Members of Parliament would be travelling to the Bartica shortly to assess the situation. The new date for the reading of the budget speech would be announced later. In a subsequent statement GINA said that the Joint Services have launched an air, sea and land operation in response to the murderous shooting spree at Bartica while noting that a high level team of government officials is preparing to leave Georgetown early today for the community.
The attack on the Bartica community has come amidst supposedly heightened security across the country following the slaughter of 11 people at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara three weeks ago. Just hours before the Lusignan slaughter gunmen in a car had attacked Police Headquarters, Eve Leary where two policemen manning the western gate were shot in their legs. That attack was the most brazen assault on a security base in recent history. Police have blamed wanted man Rondell Rawlins and his followers for the attacks.
Reposted from Kaieteur News - February 18th. 2008
invade Bartica Police Station, attack residents
Twelve killed, several injured - escape with weapons and ammo
The mining community of Bartica was transformed into a virtual slaughter house last night, after scores of heavily-armed gunmen launched a brazen 60 minute attack in the heart of the community, killing 12 people, including three policemen and wounding five other people.
Eyewitnesses said that two of the policemen were slaughtered while huddling in cupboards after the gunmen stormed the station.
The third was gunned down outside the station.
Regional Chairman Holbert Knights also confirmed that five civilians were placed to lie facedown on the Transport and Harbour Stelling, located at First Avenue, Bartica, and then shot in their heads.
Those confirmed dead are Lance Corporal Zakhir, two other ranks identified only as Fredericks and Osbourne; Ervin Perreira, a 72-year-old security guard employed at CB&R Mining Enterprise in First Avenue, Edwin Gilkes.
The wounded include a Constable Campbell.
At press time, efforts were being made to transport the injured to Georgetown.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the gunmen, numbering about 20, and brandishing assault rifles, driving through the streets in a police vehicle that they had taken from the station, and shooting wildly at civilians.
Regional Chairman Holbert Knights also confirmed that the gang eventually escaped, reportedly by boat, with arms and ammunition that they had taken from the station after storming the building.
There are also reports that the gunmen also carted off a safe containing a large quantity of gold that they had taken from a First Avenue jewellery store.
Eyewitnesses said that the surprise attack began at around 22:00 hrs, when the gunmen came ashore by boat near the Transport and Harbour wharf.
Reports said that on landing, the gang pounced on five labourers who were loading a Banks DIH vessel.
From all reports, the victims were ordered to lie on the wharf and then shot in their heads.
The gunmen then moved on to the Bartica Police Station, which is also located in First Avenue.
After shooting one of the ranks who was outside, the gunmen then ran into the building, reportedly mowing down the two terrified ranks who had hidden in cupboards. Kaieteur News understands that five ranks were in the station at the time and about eight more were in their barrack-rooms.
Kaieteur News was told that Constable Campbell was shot in the side but managed to conceal himself in the station until the gunmen left.
According to reports, the gang then removed several firearms as well as ammunition from the station. At the time, the station was equipped with shotguns, rifles and handguns, a source said. After leaving the station, some of the gunmen then boarded a police van that was in the compound.
They then drove out of the compound and began driving brazenly down First Avenue, shooting at buildings and passersby.
“Imagine, the bandits just collect a police vehicle and driving through the streets and shooting,” one resident said.
Meanwhile, some of the other gunmen barged into the CB&R Mining Enterprise, located on First Avenue, where 72-year-old security guard Ervin Perreira was on duty.
According to reports, Perreira was placed in a freezer and shot dead. The owner of the company, C. Baboolall, confirmed that the gunmen also carted off a safe containing a large quantity of gold. One police rank said that he was just about to go to the station when he heard heavy gunfire.
Shortly afterwards, he saw a police vehicle heading towards him. He assumed that the men were police ranks and was about to go to the vehicle when some residents shouted that the gunmen were in the vehicle.
He immediately hid until the gunfire had subsided.
Eventually, an eyewitness said that he saw the police vehicle head towards the stelling. Several men then jumped out of the vehicle, leaving the engine running.
They then entered a boat.
The resident said that he picked up an injured civilian and drove the vehicle to the Bartica Hospital.
Many of the residents said that they huddled in their homes during the approximately one-hour siege. One woman recalled eventually venturing out of her house and seeing several bodies strewn on the ground.
“There were just bodies (everywhere). I saw five bodies at the stelling, a policeman dead by the gate, and a taxi driver dead in his car.”
At around 02:00 hrs, five of the injured were brought by plane to the Ogle Aerodrome, before being admitted to the Georgetown Hospital.
The Joint Services has since launched an air, sea and land operation in response to the attack at Bartica.
A high level team of government officials was preparing to leave Georgetown early this morning for the community.