Police have held one person for questioning over the robbery of East Coast Demerara gas station owner Cecil Gajadhar, which resulted in his employee being killed during a trip to a city bank on Monday.
The man continued to be questioned up to press time yesterday, while police were also looking for three other “persons of interest” to assist them in their probe.
Victor Da Silva, 72, of Lot 10 Covent Garden, East Bank Demerara was killed while his employer, Gajadhar, also 72, of Foulis/Enmore, sustained gunshot injuries when gunmen opened fire on them and snatched a bag containing $8 million they were taking to a bank early Monday morning.
Gajadhar had told Stabroek News that he took the route he used on Monday most times when heading to the bank to conduct business only. He recounted that when he neared High and Cowan streets and was about to approach the koker, he saw a light brown car in front of him with the number plate PNN 28, which caught his attention.
According to him, the car was driving slowly and the number 28 was printed in very small figures. He said he then turned behind the car and as he did so, the car stopped and blocked him. “When I look out so, he start shoot, ‘bow! bow!’ And that was it. Me look at me friend (Da Silva) and me see he eye close. Me seh Vic u nah lef me an me start scream,” he said. The shots were fired from the driver’s side but he could say how many gunmen attacked him.
After the attack, he backed up his car and drove bloodied to the bank, thinking that he still had his money inside the vehicle but it was missing when he arrived there.
Yesterday, Gajadhar remained hospitalized and in a stable condition. The bullet had not yet been removed from the region on his face close to his right ear where he was hit. He said that medical personnel informed him that he would have to undergo surgery to remove “whatever in there” but could not give a time frame for the procedure.
A senior police official told Stabroek News that media reports that stated that persons were held at a hotel pertaining to the shooting were “not true at all” but confirmed that one person was held and police are searching for three others.
The officer echoed Crime Chief Seelall Persaud’s previous caution to persons carrying large sums of cash, especially in the city. “We are forever cautioning the public to protect themselves… do not walk around with large sums of money. You do not know who is tracing you [or] if a family member said something knowingly or unknowingly to shady characters,” he said.
In addition, the source pointed to the many private security escort services that are available to individuals and businesses. He said that for a small fee business persons can avoid the unnecessary stress of toting large sums and possibly being robbed.
Stabroek News made checks to listed security services and prices for an armed escort service around the city ranged from $5,000 to $12,000 per trip. As the distance increased, so did the price, with services from Berbice to Georgetown ranging from $25,000 to $45,000.
When Gajadhar was questioned as to why he did not solicit such services, he said that because he was robbed five times before he felt that the odds were against him being robbed a sixth time. However, since the attack he vowed that he will put security measures in place.
A close relative yesterday told this newspaper that the family believes that the gunmen were privy to inside information on Gajadhar’s business transactions as this is not first time he has been robbed for this year.
The relative said that the gunmen knew which route he would drive as they waited in the somewhat desolate Water and Cowan streets location where they launched their attack. “Somebody had to tell them. There is no way they know where he would drive or what time because he changed the schedule. He was supposed to go earlier but two of the girls didn’t come yet so he waited,” the relative said.