One of the men who was with New Amsterdam logger Cleveland Hetemyer when he was killed last Thursday in the Canje Creek, says he was shot after he refused to hand over gasoline.
Reports of a post-mortem examination performed on the remains of Hetemyer of Angoy’s Avenue yesterday confirmed that he died from shock and haemorrhage due to gunshot injuries. Hetemyer was shot and killed 90 miles in the Canje Creek around 2 pm on Thursday when two men pulled up in another boat and robbed him of his boat and a quantity of articles.
He had left to go into the creek two Fridays ago to transport logs to New Amsterdam for Alfred Henry. The logs were being loaded into a punt. Henry, 40, and three other persons: Anthony Blair, 23, also of Angoy’s Avenue; a 13-year-old boy and Henry’s seven-year-old son, witnessed the incident.
This newspaper spoke to Henry and Blair, who said that after the shooting, the attackers threatened to kill them as well while escaping. Fearing for their lives, they then trekked several miles through the dense jungle to escape and report the matter.
Recounting the harrowing experience, Henry, who was engaged in the business some 35 miles away from his home, said that after a hard day of logging they went into the boat to have lunch. He recounted that they had just finished eating when they “hear an engine [from a speedboat] coming and we wait to see was who.”
He said the two men in the boat, whom they recognized, went up to Hetemyer and told him that they came to “borrow” the boat. The man responded that he could not lend the boat because they were “staying in it on the water-top”. After the men insisted, Hetemyer complied and asked the men for time to remove his belongings from the boat. Henry said he, along with Blair and the boys, went over to the punt to collect the items from Hetemyer.
He said they only allowed him to take out clothes and as he was removing gasoline, food stuff and other items, they told him to leave the gasoline. Hetemyer then responded that he needed the gasoline to complete his work and could not give it to them.
Just then “we hear a load and we thought was a bluff load but then we see we partner come out wid he [left] foot bleeding and he sat down in the punt.” The men then ordered him to get up as they used expletives and threatened to kill him. He raised his hands and begged the men to spare him. They then fired the other shot to his right side ribs, causing him to fall. All along Henry and the others were watching in horror, praying that the men would not shoot them as well.
Henry told Stabroek News yesterday that they were afraid the men would carry out their threat and after they left they decided to “break the [thick] bush and escape although we didn’t know the area at all.”
They stopped in the bush and rested until the next morning when they continued their journey.
With nothing to eat and not sure where they were going, they kept praying and said God guided them safely out until they reached Henry’s relatives’ house on Friday evening. They finally got food and rested there for the night.
He said they left early Saturday morning and walked several more miles and around midday they reached the Berbice River, where they met residents who assisted them to get in contact with the captain of the area. The captain took them to the phone booth and called the police in New Amsterdam and reported the matter. They were later taken to the Torani Canal, where they waited on the team of police officers who arrived around 8:30 am on Sunday.
The officers took them on the four-hour trip to the scene to pick up the body; they also managed to collect their clothing. The badly decomposed body was secured in plastic bags and placed on the bow of the boat.
Henry said that although they had to endure the foul smell throughout the journey “we din mind; we just glad that we reached out safe….”
He told this newspaper that he was the only one engaged in provision and fruit farming in the area and that some persons were constantly stealing his crops and “used to terrorize me.” Because of that he was forced to abandon his farm and started logging. He said he wanted to save enough money to relocate to New Amsterdam, so his son and daughter would get an opportunity to attend school.