Cops stick by murder/suicide in Springlands deaths

-family of dead officer wants second autopsy
Commander of ‘B’ Division Stephen Merai yesterday said the police believe that late Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ivelaw Murray first shot himself to the chin then the temple.

“We are investigating his [Murray’s] death as suicide and we are sure that it is not murder,” Merai told Stabroek News. “We will not change our position on this.”

However, Ivan Daniels, Murray’s father, is making preparations for a second autopsy to be conducted on his son, whom he insists was murdered since he sustained two gunshot wounds to the head.

Daniels, a former senior superintendent of police, said this was a clear indication that his son’s death was a case of homicide and not suicide.  “I believe that my son was murdered,” he said, citing a reliable source who indicated that his son had refused to accept a bribe. “My wife also spoke with our son about the money issue at the end of May,” Daniels explained via telephone yesterday.

The details surrounding the incident which resulted in the deaths of ASP Murray and Constable Kevin Shepherd are still unclear. In a press statement, hours after the men’s deaths, police had reported that it was a case of murder/suicide. The ASP, police had said, argued with Shepherd then shot him to the head while they were in the barrack room at the Springlands Police Station. Murray then left the station and returned to his home a short distance away where he reportedly shot himself to the head with his service revolver.

In their first press release on the issue, police said that around 00.55 hrs on Sunday, Murray, who was in charge of the station, shot Shepherd to his head with a service .38 revolver in circumstances that were unclear. After the shot was heard, Murray was reportedly seen walking swiftly away from the station compound.

Around 03.25 hrs, two and a half hours after Shepherd was discovered dead, police said, they found Murray’s body in his house “with a suspected gunshot wound below the chin. The force firearm was recovered next to the body.”

Police Commissioner Henry Greene has since said that a police corporal had heard the two men arguing and reported that Murray had asked Shepherd to declare that they shared a “close relationship.” He said it was believed that conflict arising from the men’s personal relationship led to the tragedy.

Why did police discover Murray’s body more than two hours later and were not able to locate him while he was still alive? In answer to this, Merai said that several efforts had been made to contact Murray on his mobile phone but he did not answer any of their calls.

Further, Murray’s house, which is located about a five-minute walk from the police station, was also checked. However, the place was locked and there was no sign of him. Later, Merai said, they had received information that Murray was at the seawall and they had searched there. It was when they made a second check at his house that the discovery was made. “There was no third party involved in this murder,” Merai explained, “Nor was a second weapon used.”

Post-mortem examinations (PMEs) were performed on the bodies of Murray and Shepherd by Dr Vivekanand Brijmohan earlier this week. Both men, police said, died from “shock and haemorrhage with laceration to the brain due to gunshot injury.” No mention was made of the number of wounds Murray sustained.

Daniels explained that one of the bullets entered his son’s head from the left side temple and exited on the right side. The other bullet entered from beneath his chin and exited around the eyebrow area. From his years of experience as a member of the Guyana Police Force, the former senior superintendent said, he believes both wounds are fatal and after sustaining one there was no way Murray would have been able to inflict the other. “At this point we have still not gotten the autopsy report and his body remains at the funeral parlour,” Daniels said.
Murray’s mother, Jennita Daniels, who lives in the US, came here on May 19 to be with her daughter who was at the time writing exams. Some time after her arrival, the distressed mother recalled, Murray spoke with her via telephone. They shared a close relationship and he would often confide in her, Jennita said.

Murray, according to her, told her that a businessman, who had reportedly murdered a man, had been boasting at a nightspot that he had “paid off several police officers in Berbice and they could do nothing to him.”

Her son, she said, told her that the man said publicly that he would approach him next and the matter would be settled. However, she recalled, Murray told her that he would not be involved in such corrupt transactions and was upset that the man had been publicly making such statements.

Meanwhile, the woman also does not believe that the suicide note handed over to her by the police was written by Murray. The words, she explained, were printed in capital letters and there were two “smiley faces” drawn on the sheet of paper. In one the expression was smiling and the other had tears falling from it. “Not for a minute do I believe that note was written by my son,” Jenitta said. “Tell me, would a man with a degree in communications do something like that? No, I know my son well and it wasn’t he who wrote that.”

Both she and her husband are adamant that a second PME would be conducted on Murray’s body and they are confident that this will confirm their belief that he was murdered.

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