Cops looking for motive in arson attempts on East Coast schools

Police on the East Coast Demerara are working to establish a motive behind two arson attempts on schools in the area on Sunday; the most recent being a failed attempt on the Annandale Secondary School.

Commander of ‘B’ Division of the Guyana Police Force Gavin Primo told Stabroek News yesterday that the modus operandi of the perpetrators of the arson attempts on the Enterprise Primary School on Sunday morning and later in the evening at the Annandale Secondary School were similar since containers which contained suspected residue of petrol were retrieved from both scenes.

He said investigators are still trying to establish a motive for the attacks adding that nothing substantial has been found so far.

According to reports, around 6:30 on Sunday evening, guards attached to the RK Security Firm which is contracted to provide security to the Annandale Secondary School observed smoke emanating from the bottom of a building within the school’s compound which houses the institution’s industrial arts department.

The three guards responded promptly to the scene and extinguished a small fire which had started on a section of the building. It was nothing substantial, a senior official at the school told Stabroek News yesterday  and it was revealed that a small bottle along with “pieces of rolled-up paper” were recovered from the scene.

A security guard at the school told this newspaper yesterday that two young men were seen running away from the southern fence which borders the school. She said her three colleagues who worked the evening shift related that they responded quickly and the flames “did not really catch anything”.

Officials of the school expressed surprise at the incident yesterday since according to them, the school’s administration could not recall having any differences with anyone, including parents. It was noted by persons in the community that the police and fire service arrived at the school moments after the incident while the school’s head teacher was also informed of the incident. The school’s administration said that it would be more vigilant as regards security at the building in future.

Residents told Stabroek News that persons recalled seeing two young men “liming” in the street near to the secondary school on Sunday evening. Several lads in the area stated that no one recognized the young men but they said persons would frequent the community during the holiday season and as the season drew to a close, no one paid attention to who entered the community.

Early Sunday morning two security guards at the Enterprise Primary School saved the building from being burnt by arsonists.

According to the police, investigations are being conducted into a fire which occurred at about 4 am and damaged the primary school which is located along Lincoln Street, Enterprise, close to the market in the area.
The police said two plastic containers with a quantity of suspected diesel were found in the building.

One of two security guards who worked during the night when the incident occurred told Stabroek News at his home that he was at the front of the building when he heard a “strange sound” emanating from the school. He said he took it for nothing but made a check and to him everything seemed ok.

The man stated that shortly after 4:30 he heard another sound and when he pushed the door leading to the entrance of the building, he observed the door that led to a store room on fire. He said the fire was spreading to the upper flat of the school and according to him he immediately grabbed a bucket which was in the school yard and dashed to a stand-pipe.

The shaken man recounted that his colleague simultaneously ran for help and according to him, he frantically threw water on the flames which were distinctly blue. The man said that by the time residents converged on the scene the fire was put out, but subsequent checks around the school revealed that a few other areas were doused with what appeared to be diesel and kerosene.

The police were subsequently called in and the two guards were arrested and questioned by the police at the Vigilance Police station.

The men work for the RK Security Service which is contracted to provide security to the school. They were later released following the intervention of their supervisor who informed the police that the men had, “no reason for burning the school”. One of the men operates the school’s canteen. The guard stated that two seven-pint containers, one of which contained fuel, were found next to the canteen. The Enterprise Nursery School and a community high school are also located in the building.

Stabroek News observed several spots of a liquid which gave off a pungent scent at more than six areas around the primary school, including the corridors, the store room where the fire was set as well as along the steps leading to the upper flat of the building. Chick-peas (channa) soaked in fuel also lay on the floor close to the Grade Six and Seven classrooms outside the principal’s office on the top floor of the building.

Officials from the Guyana Fire Service were expected to visit the two schools as investigations into the two fires continue.

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