Police defend response to Deryck Kanhai deadly rampage

The police today provided their most detailed account to date of the shooting rampage by miner Deryck Kanhai on November 12 which left him and three others dead in a bullet-riddled  afternoon that paralysed the centre of the city and created fear.

The police statement follows:

Cognisant of media publications and statements that have been and continue to be made concerning the police actions in dealing with the incident involving Deryck Kanhai on November 12, 2013, at Middle Street, Georgetown, the Guyana Police Force wishes to state that the initial report received by the police was that there was a robbery at the Balwant Singh Hospital and someone had been shot.

Subsequently, another report was received that a man was walking down Middle Street and shooting at members of the public with a shotgun.

Having heard the report through the radio network Constable 18053 Sherwayne Pantlitz along with two other ranks who were on anti-crime patrol on motor cycles, and who were all fitted with body protective gear, responded. By that time Deryck Kanhai had retreated into a building where he resided and during efforts to make contact with him, Constable Pantlitz was shot and killed.



Two more ranks on motor cycles joined the others and they made valiant efforts to control the converging crowd of persons and to divert traffic.

Police reinforcements later arrived that included Divisional Commander Assistant Commissioner George Vyphuis, DSM, and a number of other officers. A command centre was set up and cordons were established with clear consideration for public safety.

It was a major task to divert traffic and control the large number of members of the public who had converged on the scene, instead of moving to areas of safety, while simultaneously concentrating on neutralising the threat posed by Deryck Kanhai.

Senior officers continually engaged persons in the crowd urging them to remove to more safe distances, but they were generally non-cooperative and defiantly refused to move. Before metal barriers were sent for and placed at strategic points, police ranks were forced to hold hands and form a human barrier.

Our history is replete with incidents of crowds converging at various scenes and despite efforts by law enforcement officials to have them remove, they do not. When persons do so, they remain there at their own risk.

The Police Force wishes to clarify that all ranks deployed in the immediate area of operation were fitted with body protective gear. Some ranks who were more involved in the outer cordon were not so fitted; and were however relatively safe in view of distance and having more physical protection available.

There was no sharing of body armour as alleged since additional body armour was acquired and distributed to ranks on the ground. Also, there was no sharing or exchange of arms and ammunition at the scene as such action is in breach of the Standard Operating Procedures as it relates to the uplifting of arms and ammunition by ranks.

The Police had to adjust tactics and strategies as the incident unfolded in order to protect further loss of life.

Efforts were made by senior officers and other ranks who identified themselves and pleaded with Deryck Kanhai in a language that he would clearly understand to give up and come out of the building. He was continually assured that no harm will come to him, but he responded with gunfire.  This process continued for a prolonged period of time without success and during which Police Lance Corporal 20293 Michael Forde was shot and killed.

Law Enforcement was at some disadvantage as Deryck Kanhai was in a building with windows of a type that prevented the ranks from seeing in, and he also had the use of CCTV which had to be subsequently immobilised.

A limited number of tear smoke grenades was used within consideration for the hospital, other business places and residents in the area, but this proved futile and was discontinued.

The police were later able to enter the building after a key to one of the doors was provided by Deryck Kanhai’s brother Aubrey Kanhai. The situation was eventually brought under control and

residents in the area have been loud in praise for the actions of the police which gave them a massive sense of relief.

During the operation two units from the Guyana Fire Service and personnel from the Guyana Power and Light Inc. were on standby.

Reports have been received of articles found missing from the building after the operation and these are being investigated. Contrary to reports in the media which alleged that a licensed shotgun belonging to Aubrey Kanhai was missing, the firearm was taken by the police as part of the investigation process and this has been communicated to him.

In keeping with Force policy, a review of the operation has been conducted and the lessons learnt will be incorporated in its Standard Operating Procedures where applicable/necessary.

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