Who is the owner of the 9mm gun that was recovered at the scene of the Eccles shooting? This is one of the many questions still outstanding one week after young designer Trevor Rose lost his life under circumstances that are still unclear.
Hours after the 5 am shooting, police said in a press release that they had recovered a 9mm pistol along with 19 matching rounds. At first it was thought that this was the weapon used in the shooting and that it may have been dropped by the gunman as he fled.
Asked recently about the weapon, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud told Stabroek News that the spent shells recovered at the scene of the shooting did not match the weapon that was recovered. He said that the spent shells were .45 calibre, while the rounds recovered with the weapon were 9mm.
Persaud said that according to records Rose was not licensed to carry a 9mm weapon and based on the checks done that weapon is illegal. He added that further ballistics tests are being done on the recovered gun and spent shells. According to Persaud, investigators have some leads that they are working on.
When Rose’s mother Lily Brown was asked about the gun, she was adamant that the weapon did not belong to her son, stating that he had never owned a gun. Stabroek News has since learnt from relatives that the father of eight had applied for a firearm licence but this was refused.
A source explained that Rose had applied for a licence to carry a weapon sometime last year but it was not granted. In a letter dated August 21 last year and signed by Police Com-missioner Leroy Brumell, the source said, Rose was informed that he did not meet the necessary requirements and as such the licence could not be granted.
The source was confident that Rose was not owner of the weapon.
At the time of the shooting, Troy Nieuenkerk was driving the vehicle Rose was travelling in. The mother of one of Rose’s children was also in the car and based on the information gathered Rose was taking the woman to her Eccles home when he was shot five times.
Nieuenkerk, when approached by this newspaper, said he knew nothing about the gun and his only focus was getting strong and getting out of the hospital.
Police have several avenues to track weapons and it is expected that in this case this will be done in an attempt to ascertain how it ended up here. It is unclear whether the police are conducting fingerprint tests on the recovered weapon.
According to a police press release on the shooting, Nieuenkerk, 30, was driving his motor car along the Eccles Access Road, East Bank Demerara, with Rose, 32, and Latoya Towler, 29, when another motor vehicle drove up alongside and the driver accosted Nieuenkerk about how he was driving.
An argument ensued during which the driver of the other vehicle came out with a firearm and discharged a number of rounds at Nieuenkerk and the other occupants of his vehicle, after which the perpetrator escaped.
Rose was hit about his body and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Public Hospi-tal, while Nieuenkerk was injured to his left shoulder and Towler to her buttock. Both were admitted to hospital but Towler was later released. Towler has since declined to speak to this newspaper about the incident.
Based on what Nieuenkerk would have told this newspaper Rose seemed to know his killer as when he spotted the man he had urged Nieuenkerk to reverse. Relatives of the dead man are still questioning why he was killed and who could behind it. Brown has since said that her son did not have any enemies and did not deserve to die the way he did.
The shooter would have walked up to the car the trio was in stood at the driver side, first shooting Nieuenkerk, then riddling Rose. There have been several cases over the years where shootings happened at close range with no obstructions.
In the light of this recent shooting, suggestions have been made that now may be the time for the police to seriously consider having a sketch artist on hand to assist in the reconstruction of a suspect’s face.
Asked about this, the Crime Chief while signaling that this technique is outdated, said there is software available at the moment that can reconstruct the facial features of a suspect. He told this newspaper that local police officers have received some training from their counterparts in Brazil in this area and more training has to be done before ranks reach the required level of competency.
He expressed the view that such software would be helpful to the police, adding that sketches or facial composites would only lead to an arrest. “That is only one part of it. When that arrest happens the identification process still has to happen,” he said adding that this is all part of the collecting of evidence.
Former police commissioner Winston Felix, speaking on this issue, said the need for sketch artists was raised before he retired. “Sketch artist is not just an artist,” he said while stressing that that person has to be highly trained.
Felix said too that this is not the sort of skill that can be developed just like that. “Of course you have to be an artist, you have to be able to do a portrait but it requires much more skill,” he said while recalling that he had entered into consultations with the Americans on this issue. He said the first problem was finding an artist who was interested.
Asked what came out of those consultations, Felix said the main issue was that the artists wanted money. “The artist we had and still have, wanted money. They don’t want to be bugged down with studying to become this and that they want money now. All they interested in is plying their trade and making money,” he said.
According to Felix, at some point someone will be found who is willing to make the sacrifices to study and learn this skill.
Asked if this should be one of the priorities, he said that at the moment the force needed a number of things working in combination. “… proper functioning cameras along with these sketch artists… You need a force that can develop an intelligence system…,” he said adding that often the core issues are neglected.
He stressed that citizens need to be able to trust the police to the point where they would want to assist ranks in investigations knowing that they would not be compromised and that their involvement in the matter would be for the right reasons.
Another matter of concern is the presence of heavily tinted vehicles. In the case of Rose’s murder, this newspaper was told that the shooter was the passenger of a heavily tinted car. A source said that while there are regulations in place as regards tint on vehicles they are often disregarded.
The source said that while most cars come with a manufacturer’s tint, the tint on the vehicle that the shooter was in, was much darker. Persons are known to remove the manufacturer’s tint and replace it with the darker tint, the source said.
According to the source, there are a few cases were heavily tinted private vehicles are seen around the city. The source said that in the light of this killing, the issue of heavy tint ought to be put on the front burner once again.
Back in 2012 the Traffic Department launched a campaign against persons driving with dark tint. The Government Information Agency (GINA) had said in a press release that police would have been using a tint meter to ensure compliance with the law as stated in the Trade Act. The regulation calls for 35 to 65 per cent light penetration and states that, “no person shall import into Guyana after the 4th day of April 1999 any motor vehicle which has fitted to it any glass or safety glass, or any other material used in the place of such glass or safety glass, which is so tinted or otherwise treated or coloured, in such a manner or to such extent, as would result in obstructing or in any way preventing the identification of the driver of the motor vehicle or any other person travelling in the motor vehicle by any person from outside the motor vehicle.”
When vehicles are registered, the Licence Revenue Office conducts the reading of the tint on the glass of the vehicles, the release said.