Cops in massive Sophia sweep

Less than a week after the shooting to death of a 15-year-old boy and a spate of robberies more than a hundred police officers yesterday morning swooped on the Sophia/Turkeyen area, searched over 71 homes and detained 53 persons.

According to reports reaching Stabroek News at around 4 am yesterday vanloads of police officers descended on the area and cordoned it off from the main access area and proceeded to search homes and arrest persons who were on the roadways.

The police in a press release said that they conducted raids between ‘A’ and ‘E’ Fields, Sophia, during which a total of 71 houses were searched and 51 men and two women were arrested pending enquiries into various offences including murder, robbery under arms and simple larceny.

The release said a motor cycle, three motor car wheels and two music speakers, which are believed to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained, were seized by the police.

It is understood that the persons who were arrested were initially taken to the Turkeyen Police Station but later transferred to the Brickdam Police Station where they were processed and most of them released.

But Stabroek News was told that about ten of the arrested are wanted in connection with armed robberies committed in Sophia while three of them were said to be fingered in last week’s attack on the 21-year-old nursing student Bobby Hemraj, who was shot in the abdomen while at an internet café on Sheriff Street.

The young man is still in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital after undergoing emergency surgery.

Reports reaching this newspaper are that shortly after 9 pm, two men went to Plaza Computer Services at 245 Sheriff Street where Hemraj works part time and requested to make a phone call. The internet café offers browsing as well as telephone and internet calls. He was the only employee present at the time and as he was about to give the phone to the men; one of them pulled out a gun and shot him in the abdomen.

Yesterday, Commander of `C’ Division, Balram Persaud said the raid was as a result of the number of robberies committed recently in the area. Police believe that a single gang has been behind these and was hoping to apprehend its members.

The gang members are also believed to be involved in the slaying of 15-year-old Warren Scotland who was gunned down on a roadway in North Sophia last week Thursday. Police in a press release had said that Scotland “was an onlooker at a group of men who were gaming in front of a shop at North Sophia” when he was shot.

Two men, according to the police press release, armed with handguns approached the group and held up Rambeer Ghanny who was involved in a game of cards. The armed men then took away a quantity of jewellery and a wristwatch that Ghanny was wearing at the time and subsequently escaped.

While leaving, the police had said, one of the men discharged a round which struck Scotland to the left side of his face. Scotland, the police said, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

‘Under a bike’

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday morning many residents were aware of the raid but didn’t know much.

“All I know is I wake up and I see a lot of police in the area, if you see how much and I don’t know what dem was looking for I don’t know if it was because of the shooting of that lil child [Scotland] but they went in here and spend long,” one female resident told Stabroek News.

Reports are that while the main road was cordoned off the police attention was on the areas at the back that are seldom traversed.

One resident said that the police were picking up anyone they found on the road. “One man was riding a bike and the police pick he up and put he in the vehicle. They put he bike on the seat and then if you see how they put he to lie down under the bike,” a resident told this newspaper.

Many residents were on the corner discussing the raid while others were trekking to the Turkeyen station with the hope of getting some information on relatives that were believed to have been held by the police.

One woman said she was not home during the raid but when she returned home later in the morning she received information that her son had been held.

“I now going to the station to see if he is in there,” the woman said but she exited shortly after and reported that she was told that her son is at Brickdam. The woman said she does not understand why her son was held but noted that he was said to have been involved in drugs sometime back but was later cleared by the lawmen.

Some residents also reported that employees of the Guyana Power & Light (GPL) were also on the police raid and several illegal connections were disconnected and wires were removed.

“The GPL left here with two vanloads of wire if you see how much illegal wire they carry way,” one resident said.

‘Residential area’

Meanwhile, over at Block E, South Sophia better known as South Sophia Farming Section, residents say there has been a spate of burglaries in the area resulting in many of them changing the way they once lived.

The residents said they can no longer sleep with their doors open or even leave their doors open as people are walking into their homes and removing items.

“At one time this area was like a residential area because people could have sleep with their doors open and nothing happen. Now you can’t even leave your bicycle outside because people picking it up,” one resident said yesterday.

According to some residents when they leave for work in the morning persons are removing their window panes and taking other items from their homes. “You even frighten to leave your clothes on the line now because they thieving it. It really hard now…” another resident said. The resident noted that many persons have opted not to report the thefts to the police as they are hoping that they may catch the thieves themselves and deal with them while others are ashamed of what is happening in the area.

The resident noted that it could be because the residents are opting not to report the incidents of burglaries that the police did not yesterday morning target their area as part of their operation. “The police would know that this area don’t really get thieves but it changing now,” the resident pointed out.

“Is like this area take a drastic turn and I don’t know how it would get back to what it was before,” Stabroek News was told. It was reported that on Sunday the bicycles of some boys were stolen while they were taking a swim.

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