A 25-year-old miner was shot dead in his camp at White Water Backdam, Konawaruk, Region Eight on Monday, allegedly by an employee who had become enraged after an argument over the operation of a pump; the suspect has not yet been apprehended.
Dead is Neville Melville of Arakaka, North West District who was shot in the head as he lay in bed sleeping with his reputed wife and five-month- old son. He was killed one day before he would have celebrated his 26th birthday.
Police in a press release said that the murder which occurred around 3 am is being investigated and so far ranks have gathered that Melville had an argument earlier with a co-worker over the operation of a pump. Later the sound of a gunshot was heard coming from Melville’s tent in the camp and the suspect was seen leaving. Checks revealed that Melville had been shot to his head.
A warhead was recovered from the scene, the release added.
The man’s body was brought to the city yesterday afternoon and is at the Lyken’s Funeral Home awaiting a post-mortem examination.
The man’s family was distraught over the killing when this newspaper visited a relative’s home located in the Georgetown area.
One of his brothers, holding a picture in his hand, stared at a fixed spot ahead of him for most of the time that this newspaper was present.
His reputed wife Natasha Sookraj who was sitting in a chair clutching a pillow was grief stricken but she however managed to recount the events leading up to the tragic moment.
According to her, Melville, the suspect and another man did a `washdown’ on Saturday but they only managed to get one ounce of raw gold.
After the process was over the other man left the area for Mahdia. The suspect, Melville, his wife and son remained at the camp.
Sookraj said that later that day, the suspect asked Melville to “wuk de pump again” since he was apparently dissatisfied with their progress that morning. However Melville in his response said that he was already discouraged and that “the … engine could park”.
The grieving woman told Stabroek News that the conversation was more like raised tones than an argument and the suspect subsequently left the area. She stated that he went to the White Water Landing where he had some drinks.
The suspect she added returned to the camp, which is about two hours walking distance around 10 pm that night.
When they woke Sunday morning, she recalled Melville telling her that there wasn’t anything to make stew with. Melville handed the one pennyweight of gold she had left to the suspect telling him to buy some meat, potatoes and a slipper and keep whatever change for himself.
The couple and their baby then started a 20-minute walk to Melville’s uncle’s camp where they spent several hours before returning to their own camp.
According to Sookraj, up until they went to bed that night the suspect still had not returned. However the baby woke up twice during the night and they both got up to tend to him.
“Around 3 am I hear a loud explosion that been ringing in me ears”, she recalled adding that when she jumped out of her sleep, she continuously shook Melville to wake him up but to no avail. It was when she saw blood on her hands that she realized that something was wrong and started hollering.
According to her, the suspect who had a haversack on his back was seen running out of the tent. She added that the area was lit by a ‘bush lamp”.
Sookraj, making every effort to hold back her tears, told this newspaper that she wrapped her baby in a blanket and although the place was dark with bush all around, somehow managed to reach Melville’s uncle’s camp. Once there, she told him what had happened and he together with a few men from his camp went to the scene.
The woman said that when they came back, they told her that Melville had been shot and was already dead.
Asked why the suspect would have been so upset, she said that he wanted to work again because they didn’t get anything much from the `washdown’. She added that as far as she knew this was the first time, the suspect had worked for her husband; he had previously worked for his uncle.
The police came in for high praise from the woman who said that given the distance, ranks from Mahdia were there by early afternoon.
Melville would usually move from backdam to backdam and Saturday’s `washdown’ was his first for the year.