Off-duty cop shoots man dead, injures another in bar brawl
– says they had gun
A man was shot dead and another injured by an off-duty police officer who was said to have been moonlighting as a bouncer/security guard at a city night spot.
Hewley Nicholas Barker, 28, of Norton Street was shot dead outside the Station Street, Kitty bar some time after 2 am. Mark Caesar, 30, of St Stephen’s Street was wounded and is currently a patient at the High Dependency Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital. Reports are that Barker was shot at close range in his heart and succumbed to his injury at the scene, while Caesar was shot in the back.
Details of what exactly transpired remain hazy, but the officer has since accused the men of assaulting him and he said too that Caesar pulled out a gun during a fracas that broke out between them. Caesar’s relatives have denied the gun allegation, saying yesterday that the officer used excessive force in reaction to the dispute which erupted. The family questioned whether the police can produce the gun that was in the man’s possession and they decried the manner in which the episode unfolded calling it “another example of the current state of policing in the country”.
The police reportedly dusted Caesar’s hands for gunpowder residue after he was admitted to the hospital.
The officer involved in the incident was also at the public hospital seeking treatment shortly after the incident.
Information flowing from relatives indicated that Caesar and Barker were “hanging together” on Friday night. They started out at a staff party hosted by an attorney and later made their way to Buddy’s on Sheriff Street, but the two subsequently left Buddy’s after a friend turned up to say that he had been assaulted by an officer at the Kitty nightspot. “He went and asked them to follow him back to the spot and clarify with the police what the problem was really,” a relative said.
The two men arrived in Kitty and approached the officer about the incident. Reports are that the conversation lasted a few minutes before a fracas broke out and gunshots rang out. Residents close to the scene recalled hearing gunshots but were unable to say how many. Caesar’s relatives said he was shot in the back and later assaulted as he lay on the road wincing in pain. They said also that the policeman was accompanied by three other men who assisted in assaulting Caesar. The family also alleged that Caesar was stripped of cash, his cellphone and valuables including credit cards.
Stabroek News spoke with Caesar’s mother, Donna Aaron, who recounted what she was told by persons at the scene and also by her son. She said the incident seemed senseless since her son and Barker had merely intended to pacify a situation between one of their friends and the police officer. According to her, the policeman was eager to pull his gun and open fire at her son and his friend.
She expressed concern at what happened after the shooting saying that when she arrived at the scene with other relatives both Caesar and Barker were lying on the road bleeding. The woman recalled persistent efforts being made by the family for the police to rush both men to the hospital, but at that point it had appeared that Barker had died. However, she said her son was still breathing yet the police decided that no one would be taken from the scene until they thought it appropriate.
“They had them lying there for about half an hour. How can that be right?” a relative questioned yesterday. He said the sight of the men just lying there was disturbing.
Aaron and her relatives condemned what they termed excessive force being used by police ranks. They said the country has seen enough senseless police confrontations when persons were killed and or injured because of minor misunderstandings. “I am calling on the media and the government to follow-up this story because we are watching to see what sort of investigation would be conducted,” a relative said trying to stay calm.
Over at the home of Barker’s parents, relatives were mourning the loss of a man who they described as easygoing and “too kind”. His mother told Stabroek News that she was alerted after 3 am and when they turned up at the hospital her son’s body was lying there, but she was unable to see him until some time after. “When I looked at my son he was just lying there dead… He was my baby no matter how grown he felt he was and I have lost him,” she mourned.
The mother said too that it is always hard when parents have to bury their children. Barker was no longer living at her residence, but he visited frequently and was there on Friday. She said he also called later in the evening to ask about his 11-month-old son who lives with her.
Relatives and friends gathered at his home lamented the state of the country and they questioned why Barker. “We don’t mean to stereotype anyone, but Hewley’s background alone speaks to the man he was. This is not someone with a past, with a present, nothing, this was a good young man who was killed and for what?” a friend said.
His mother said she felt compelled to speak with the press because “people need to know that my son has become another statistic”. Barker was one of three sons and he leaves to mourn his son, parents and relatives.