Following months of frenetic and bloody pursuit, police yesterday said they shot and killed Rondell `Fineman’ Rawlins and escaped prisoner and multiple murder accused, Jermaine `Skinny’ Charles in an almost seven-hour-long operation starting at Timehri.
Another man identified as Seon Grant of Timehri Squatting area was also killed in the process. He was identified by relatives. Up to late yesterday the police had not completed any fingerprint matching for the slain men, but acting police commissioner Henry Greene noted that the men were positively identified by two prison officers.
At a press conference called hours after the dramatic events, Greene told the media at Police headquarters, Timehri that acting upon information received at about 5:45 yesterday morning two teams from the Joint Services Operation Group and the Guyana Defence Force Special Force along with members of the special forces proceeded to an area in Timehri about 500 metres east of the GDF ammunition dump when they came under fire from shooters in an identifiable house.
According to Greene in that first confrontation, GDF Corporal Cush was shot in his right hand. He said ranks returned fire having seen three men running from the house and when they descended upon the scene they found the body of a man who was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The man was identified as Grant.
Ranks then continued their search for the other men.
The two men ended up in Kuru Kururu at a place villagers call Kakabura and at about 12:45 pm, police said the team came under fire from a small unfinished concrete structure. There was an exchange of gunfire and two men, later identified as Rawlins and Charles were killed.
Greene said the men were taken to the mortuary where they were pronounced dead on arrival. A search of the structure revealed two AK 47 rifles and 215 7.62 by 39 rounds contained in seven magazines. One of the weapons have since been confirmed as one of those which went missing from army base Camp Ayanganna back in 2006.
According to a police source, who saw the bodies there was no serious injury to the faces of the two men but Charles’ arm had serious injuries.
Rawlins had a visible nick on one side of the face, the source said. Further, this newspaper was told that Rawlins sustained a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Stabroek News understands that the dead man had a goatee.
Meanwhile Greene made it clear that he was cognisant of the fact that there were still many gang members out there and said that the police’s success in capturing what he called the “point man” of the gang did not mean that the search was over.
To this end he urged that the other gang members turn themselves in and face the full force of the law and reiterated that “we are by no means giving up the search.” Flanked by army Chief of Staff, Commodore Gary Best, Greene told reporters that the police have been able to identify Rawlins as the gang leader over the years and noted that the more prominent leaders of the gang have already been killed from October last year to date.
Malcom Allen called Coolie Boy, Aubrey Glasgow called Dread, Noel James called Baby, Orlando Andrews called Bullet, Troy St. John called John Eye, Otis Fifee, Cecil Ramcharran and Robin are among gang members killed.
Greene also said there are about 25 gang members and persons who have supported them in one way or another and are currently in the Georgetown Prisons.
He noted that while some of the men were known to the police and may have been convicted on offences in the past, they have not been heard from over time and so were not prominent.
In the list of still-wanted men Greene listed several names including Sunny, Richard Daniels called “Chucky”, a man known as “Not Nice”, Leon Cort called “Capone”, a man known as White Boy, Ratty, James Gibson and one known only as Kenny.
However with this latest killing, especially of wanted man Rawlins, Greene said he feels that the gang has been shaken and likened the police’s success in slaying the man who has been able to evade them for some time, as the proverbial “breaking of the camel’s back”.
“We feel we have broken the camel’s back where this gang is concerned,” he asserted.
Recounting the intelligence received which he labelled as “an integrated approach,” Commodore Best said that the army responded based on the information it received. He said when that information pointed to the fact that the men were staying somewhere in Timehri, he said he figured that they would want to assemble not far from the army base.
Asked about his feeling in light of the revelation that the men’s temporary abode was mere metres away from the army’s ammo dump, Best said he was concerned but noted that he had no information so far as to whether the men had any intention of attacking the base. However he noted that it was not something that he would put past them, since the concern of criminals of that nature were to always keep their ammunition stores going.
Since June when the police reportedly had their last positive sighting of Rawlins, following information they received which pointed to Christmas Falls, the man had been able to evade capture, despite countless joint services operations, searches and road blocks in several areas in and out of the city.
Questioned in that regard, Best responded, “let me start at the end, there is no more Fineman and Skinny… indeed they managed to get past the joint services.”
“In any event these were hard men, hard fighters. In the end the joint services won, we won out and it is not over as the commissioner said because there are other criminal elements at large. The joint services continue to conduct its operation and work towards keeping the country safe … I don’t see a let up of this operation for the Joint Services,” Best asserted.
Asked about his concern that many of the weapons being recovered in the hand of criminals have been traced to the army, Best noted that there is a concern but said the ammunition found with the men was old.
He further stated that recent finds on many criminals have produced less and less ammunition but cautioned that he was not suggesting that more ammunition was still not out there and in the hands of the wrong people.