Man shot in head was taxi driver

The man who was fatally shot in the head on Sussex Street on Thursday night, was yesterday identified as Keith Bowen, a 30-year-old Vigilance, East Coast Demerara resident and Sheriff Taxi Service driver.

Keith Bowen
Keith Bowen

His dark grey car bearing number plate HB 264 was found abandoned on Princes Street in the vicinity of Lombard Street around 7:30 yesterday morning. There were bloodstains on the driver’s seat and on the inside of one of the doors.

Though the incident has the appearance of a carjacking that had gone horribly wrong, many close to Bowen called `Keitho’ questioned why he would have been shot in the head, if the killer(s) were only after his car.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are still unclear. Residents of the area had told Stabroek News on Thursday night that they saw a white car leaving the area where the man was found, seconds after a gunshot was heard.

That night, the man was listed as unidentified but following the discovery of his vehicle, workmates and relatives positively identified him at the Georgetown Hospital mortuary.

It was around 8 pm, that a car stopped briefly on the dark road near the entrance to the `Island’ at West La Penitence. An explosion rang out shortly after and the vehicle then drove off.

An elderly woman subsequently found Bowen, lying just off the road, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound to the right side of his head.

The woman alerted other residents and police were summoned to the area. The patrol vehicle that turned up rushed the still breathing man to the Georgetown Hospital. However, he succumbed while undergoing treatment in the emergency room of the medical institution.

Police in a release yesterday said that they are investigating the murder.

Owner of the Sheriff Taxi Service Gregory Toovey told Stabroek News yesterday that Bowen, who had been in his employ since January 23, made his last drop at 8.30 am on Thursday. He said the man had complained that his car was overheating. That was the last contact the service had with him.

Toovey further explained that most of the drivers are on contract and as such they did not have regular hours. Bowen was one such driver and when they did not see him back at the Sheriff Street base where he was attached, no concern was expressed.

The businessman stated that around 7:30 am yesterday the dispatcher told him that Car 13 (which Bowen drove) was found on Princes Street abandoned. He said when he arrived on the scene the vehicle was there and he noticed bloodstains on the top of the driver’s seat and the inside of one of the doors.

No one knows where Bowen was between 8:30 am when he last contacted the base and 8 pm when he was shot. The man did not pick up his eight-year-old son from a city school on Thursday. The child told teachers yesterday that when he called his father’s cellular phone he got no answer, so he spent the night at the home of one of his father’s friends. The child lived with Bowen and a cousin.

No one in First Street, Vigilance where Bowen lived recalled seeing him on Thursday.

In his home community tears flowed openly and loud sobbing filled the air. Residents said they were told of the incident but did not believe it was true.

One of the man’s neighbours said that when she did not see him she assumed that he had been hired for a ‘special’. However, she said, later in the day she was told that he had been killed the night before but didn’t think too much of it.

She said she last saw him on Monday and he was in his usual high spirits.

Bowen’s cousin Michael Bowen, with whom he lived was at work in the city when he received the devastating news. When he arrived home, the man was in tears. He told reporters that he last saw Bowen on Thursday morning before he left for work.

“He tell me have a good day but when I come home in the afternoon, I find he keys on the step,” the grieving man said adding that he hid the keys and went out, assuming that Bowen would call him later.

He said that the man never called and when he got home, neither Bowen nor his son, was there.

Michael recalled that late Thursday night a female friend of Bowen called him asking about his (Bowen’s) whereabouts, because she wasn’t getting through to his phone.

The man said that though he missed Bowen for the entire day, he did not think much of it as he would sometimes work overtime and his son would stay at a friend in the village.

He said that yesterday he was at work when Bowen’s brother called him to say that a taxi driver had been found dead, but he wasn’t sure who it was. The brother later called with the tragic news after identifying the body.

Michael stated that Bowen had been a taxi driver for years and never had any problems. The two had been living at the Vigilance address for years and were like brothers, he added.

Bowen also leaves behind brothers and sisters.

Toovey yesterday ex-pressed concerns about the increase in carjackings in the city over the last few weeks. He pointed out that he always advises his drivers to keep in contact with the base so that their whereabouts could be known at all times.

A solution to the problem he said could be the GPS tracking systems. However Toovey said that so far the information he has received is that it could work to an extent. He said a system like that would provide an added sense of security for his drivers.

Meanwhile, another taxi was carjacked in the Campbellville area on Thursday night.

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday that driver Gavin Nero was stopped by two men on D’Urban Street who requested to be taken to William Street, Campbell-ville.

On arrival at their destination, one of the men pulled out a gun and ordered Nero out of his vehicle.

Nero escaped unhurt while the men drove off.

Police are investigating.

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