Werk-en-Rust residents accuse cops of reckless shooting during chase

The police opened fire on two young men who had escaped into a yard filled with children at Leopold Street, Werk-en-Rust late yesterday afternoon.

No one was injured but residents were angry and criticised the actions of the policemen, who were in the area as part of efforts by the force to intensify its presence in the city amidst an increase in armed robberies.

Some of the children in the yard yesterday

Shortly after 5:45pm yesterday, a van load of police officers was patrolling the area when the officers observed two young men acting in a suspicious manner. On seeing the police, the young men ran east into Leopold Street with the police in pursuit.

According to Jocelyn (only name given), she was washing her clothes in the yard located at Lot 101 Leopold Street, where several families reside,  when two young men sprinted into the yard with two police officers on their heels. She said that the two boys ran past her, as several children who were playing a game of cricket ran for safety.

“All I see is two young boys coming in me direction and these two police boys start shooting and I holler ‘Oh Jesus Christ!’ and they fired another shot,” the traumatised woman recounted.

She said that the lawmen continued to aim their guns in the direction of a house at the rear of the yard, prompting her to scream at the officers, while informing them that the children’s lives needed to be considered.

Another resident stated that a dog had rushed towards the two officers and ”one a dem aim and he go fuh shoot but I tell [he] don’t shoot meh dog and he walk away.”

Two women, who are in the late terms of their pregnancies, told Stabroek News that they were sitting on their stairs when they saw the police running into the yard. One of the women got up from the stairs and, according to her, after the shots were fired in the direction of the two fleeing young men, she almost fell. She explained that her children were among more than a dozen children who were playing in the yard at the time. The entire episode lasted some 20 minutes, the woman stated.

Another resident stated that he saw a police patrol moving along Smyth Street when he observed two men running into Leopold Street. He said that the lawmen quickly cordoned off the area as residents congregated at the street corners. He added that while the police chase came up empty, petty thieves were among criminals who would commit unlawful acts and run into the community. But residents stated that the police needed to conduct themselves in a more cautious manner.

Recently, there has been a spate of armed robberies in the Wortmanville/Werk-en-Rust areas and following Monday evening’s robbery at D’Urban Street, in which two miners were shot, residents had urged police to step up their presence in the area.

On Monday evening, miners Glen Xavier, of Harlem, West Coast Demerara and Orin John, of St Cuthbert’s Mission were drinking at the Corn Bread Mini Mart on D’urban Street when they were attacked and robbed by two gunmen. The two men sustained gunshot wounds about their bodies.

The two bandits escaped on a Honda CG motorcycle, which has been the preferred mode of transportation for robbers, residents stated.

Residents told Stabroek News that the businesses in the area are being targeted by the intruders and they noted that it is only a matter of time before persons take matters into their own hands. A police source, meanwhile, noted last evening that the force has since stepped up its presence in the area and other sections of the city.

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