A policeman was last evening shot dead and two others were injured after a lone gunman opened fire on their patrol vehicle on Avenue of the Republic between Regent and Charlotte streets, moments after the ranks noticed a suspicious number plate on a motor car.
Police Corporal Romein Cleto who is attached to the Brickdam Police Station was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Hospital while Constables Randy Daly, 20, was shot in his left arm, and Anil Persaud, 28, was injured by glass from the vehicle’s shattered windscreen, the police said in a press release.
Hospital sources said that Cleto, a 25-year-old father of one of Bent Street, Werk-en-Rust, sustained several gunshot wounds to the head. Persaud, meanwhile was discharged after seeking medical attention. He had a visible abrasion on the right shoulder. It is unclear what the condition of Daly is. This newspaper was unable to make contact with his relatives.
The incident saw a heavy police presence in the city up to press time last evening. Stabroek News has learnt that some time after ten o’clock the police blocked off a section of D’Urban Street after they received information about a suspect who had been identified. The car with the suspicious plate in which the gunman was an occupant was found abandoned on the East Coast some time after the shooting, sources told this newspaper.
The double cabin dark blue pick-up that the ranks were travelling in told the tale of the assault that they endured. There were as many as ten bullet holes to be seen, mostly in the side of the vehicle and the bonnet. Ranks were later seen checking the vehicle which was parked in the hospital compound, and it was evident that there was also damage to the engine.
Assistant Commissioner Responsible for Operations, George Vyphuis, told report-ers at the hospital moments after exiting the emergency room, that the police patrol vehicle was proceeding on Avenue of the Republic when ranks observed a white car in front with a tampered number plate. Vyphuis said that the ranks gave chase behind the car and turned onto Charlotte Street then into Avenue of the Republic.
He said that the car then stopped and someone came out of the car allegedly armed while the policemen exited their vehicle. According to him, it was at this time that the person opened fire on the policemen.
At the time he spoke to reporters, he indicated that police roadblocks had been set up and he said that the police would ensure that the persons who are responsible for the crime are caught.
When contacted Police Commissioner (ag) Leroy Brumell indicated that he was out of the country on official police duties. He said that he had just received a text message but did not have all the details. Stabroek News was unable to make contact with the Crime Chief Seelall Persaud who is performing the duties of police commissioner.
Several senior police officers including ‘A’ Division Commander Derrick Josiah turned up at the hospital and were seen speaking with relatives of the slain cop.
Meanwhile, relatives of Cleto wept loudly as they learnt of his passing. Cleto’s father, David Kendall, said that he spoke to his son around 6.45 pm when he called him and reminded him to put credit in his cell phone. He recalled that he told him that he was a bit busy. He said that shortly after that he received a call from his son’s cell phone and the caller told him that Cleto was involved in an accident. Kendall also said that another relative called him before he arrived at the hospital and told him that his son had passed away.
The man said that he is yet to ascertain what happened to his son as he had been told nothing by the police officer who spoke with him at the hospital and he has also been unable to see the body.
Kendall said that he felt hurt about this, noting that Cleto had been a member of the police force for at least four years.
He added that his son had wanted to leave the force because he was being sent to various areas. He leaves to mourn his one year-old daughter, his parents and other relatives and friends.
Persons who were in the area at the time of the shooting recalled hearing a hail of bullets before seeing a crowd of persons running in the direction of the Avenue of the Republic. One woman said that she was so afraid that she just laid low. She said that everything happened on the Avenue of the Republic. Up to press time last evening police had blocked off the section stretching from Regent Street to Charlotte Street. Ranks were seen walking around that area. This newspaper was told that several spent shells and a warhead were recovered at the scene.