As Howes Street, Charlestown residents settled into their morning routines yesterday a man who reportedly `tripped out’ went on a chopping rampage which left two dead, two injured and many, who were chased by the cutlass wielding attacker, in shock.
Cedric Blackman, a 72-year-old shop owner, was the first to be hacked to
death by the attacker just after 9.30am in his Lot 57 Russell and Howes streets home. Several minutes later Ann Cham-A-Koon, 38, who lives a short distance away at Lot 60 Russell Street was fatally chopped by the man. Cham-A-Koon had left her house to get a closer look at the commotion that was unfolding in Charlestown.
The attacker, who has since been identified as William Light, 42, of Stevedore Squatting Area, Georgetown was arrested by police minutes after murdering Blackman and Cham-A-Koon. Residents also said that the man was seeing sharpening the cutlass for three days before the attack.
When Stabroek News arrived at the scene shortly after 10 am there was a heavy police presence and crime scene detectives were already at work in Blackman’s house.
Blackman’s granddaughter told Stabroek News, that Light had been “around” her grandfather for a while and did “odd jobs” for residents around the Charlestown area. She could not say what would’ve moved Light to pick up a cutlass and begin chopping Blackman.
The shop owner was in his house, sitting on a chair near the front door, when Light attacked him. After chopping Blackman repeatedly about the body Light then headed for the street where he chased after several people with his cutlass. As those on the street ran from the crazed man in panic others who were in their houses began going out to investigate.
Light, an eyewitness told this newspaper, started running after the husband of Blackman’s step-daughter. As he chased the man up Russell Street, Radesh Persaud, 41, of Lot 38 Russell Street somehow caught Light’s attention and he too started to run from the man.
Persaud ran into the yard next door to Cham-A-Koon’s house. It was then that the now dead woman would’ve become aware of what was happening outside her house.
“We hear this screaming and so,” Cham-A-Koon’s relative told this newspaper yesterday, “and when we look outside we see this mad man [Light] running Radesh all around this old house next door and then Radesh run in we yard.”
It was after Persaud ran into Cham-A-Koon’s yard that another nearby resident rushed to his aid. When they next looked outside, the relative said, Radesh and Light were both out of sight.
“Is ‘cause we know Radesh and she de worried,” the relative said referring to Cham-A-Kon, “she open the door and said she going out side…and I scream to she and I tell she no, no Ann you can’t go outside but she ain’t hear me, she ain’t hear me at all.”
When Cham-A-Koon reached the corner where Blackman’s shop is located, a man told Stabroek News, she stood there for a bit and was peering around to see where Persaud had gone. Moments after, Light rushed up to the woman, attacked her, she fell to the ground and he then chopped her twice to the neck.
“They try to save she…”
Nandanie Calvan, 61, was in her house when she heard the screaming. When she rushed outside, she recalled, Light was chopping DeSouza the mechanic who lives across the street from her.
“I see this and I start to run…I run up the road to the daycare and I tell the people to lock up…next thing I know I see Ann dead on the corner of Russel and Howes street,” Calvan said.
Moments before, from the safety of her house, Calvan saw many residents with pieces of wood try to save Cham-A-Koon from “the mad man”. Many others started stoning the cutlass-armed man but it seemed to have to effect on him.
“They try to save she but it de done too late,” the woman said.
It was she, Calvan said, who called police to the scene. Ruimveldt Police, according to the woman, responded in a prompt manner. The first thing police did upon arrival was hold up Light.
“I hear a police man tell he don’t move and you better believe he na move,” Calvan told this newspaper.
The woman also said that Light had been “troubling” her teenage relative and recently exposed himself to her in public.
Meanwhile, at Cham-A-Koon’s house her relatives were in tears. Rabia Shakoor said that her mother had recently returned from Trinidad. Cham-A-Koon was also the mother of an eighth-month-old baby.
“If only she had stayed in the house this wouldn’t happen…I haven’t even gone to the hospital as yet to identify my mother but the people out there told me that she’s dead, that he [Light] nearly chopped her head off,” Shakoor said between sobs.
“He catch me off guard…”
Meanwhile, the injured men were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital by police. The men were sent for emergency surgery. Persaud was discharged from the medical institution while the other injured man, Sean DeSouza is currently a patient of the High Dependency Unit.
DeSouza, 41, a mechanic who lives at Lot 58 Howes Street was the last to be wounded by Light. DeSouza, his wife later told this newspaper, sustained chops to the shoulder and neck. Her husband, the woman said, heard the noise on the road, went out to investigate and was attacked by Light.
In the waiting area of the Accident and Emergency Unit a distressed Sherry DeSouza was waiting on her husband who was a victim of rampage. Sherry said that it was 10 am. She and her husband were in their Howes Street home when they “hear a commotion”.
Her husband, Sean DeSouza, 41, “run out and he get two chop” Sherry
recalled. “I was readying to go me daughter school, hustling fuh go break time fuh catch the teacher,” said Sherry when they heard the commotion.
“He catch me off guard,” were the words of DeSouza later on in the day when he spoke with Stabroek News from his hospital bed. DeSouza underwent some four hours of surgery said that at the time he was going to go buy phone cards.
As DeSouza stepped out of his gate he was assaulted by the cutlass wielding man. Dizzy and thirsty still from surgery, DeSouza said he lost a lot of blood and was hoping for a fast recovery.
Affected by forces
Blackman’s step-daughter Karen McCammon told Stabroek News yesterday afternoon that the attacker is distantly related to her mother.
Light, she said, had been staying at the Russell and Howes streets home for several days. The man, according to her, left and then returned yesterday morning when he launched the deadly attack.
McCammon said that the man was a labourer and did odd jobs around the community. Another resident, Prince Akeem, told this newspaper that for the last three weeks Light had been complaining about strange things to him. About a week and a half ago, Akeem said, the man told him that his “mind is being affected by forces” and that he “couldn’t control it”.
“He tell me that he wasn’t feeling good at all and he ask me to pray for him,” Akeem said.
Several days ago a woman, who did not identify herself, said that she overheard Light screaming that “the time has come. It is the end.” Light, the woman said, usually did some odd jobs for her around the place.
“I know he used to smoke he spliff here and there and plus he didn’t too righted in he head,” she said.
(By Sara Bharrat and Tiffny Rhodius)