The Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is conducting an investigation into allegations that ranks of the Wales Police Station failed to respond to reports of gunshots prior to the shooting to death of 14-year-old Ryan Persaud.
Acting Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell said, “I learnt about ranks not responding to reports when the incident occurred. What I have done, I have the OPR looking at that matter instead of the division. The investigation by the OPR will tell me what action was taken whether any occurrences
were made and so on but it only came to my attention when it occurred.” He made these comments during a press conference at the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday.
Persaud died after a stray bullet hit him in the back on September 3 on the roadway in front of his home at Vive la Force, West Bank Demerara. It is suspected that the bullet came from a weapon fired on a boat that was moored in the Demerara River, at the back of the village.
Residents of the area blasted the Wales Police Station, saying that over the past two years they have made numerous complaints that periodically there would be rapid gunfire coming from boats that are either passing or moored on the river. They said it seemed that the vessels belong to businessmen who would indiscriminately fire shots or persons practicing their shooting with high-calibre guns.
One female resident, who did not want to give her name, had told this newspaper that her husband, a fisherman, mentioned seeing men on ships on the river with high-powered assault rifles. The dead teen’s father, Vishnu Persaud, also informed that only two weeks prior to his son’s killing, his home was pierced by a bullet, which came from a boat on the Demerara River. “Over two year this going on. You would hear this shooting and it sound so near… last two week, she [his wife] been a wash wares and the firing start. Next thing, we hear something hit the house. When we check, it had a hole and we know was a bullet,” he said.
Resident James Munroe said two weeks prior to the fatal shooting he had walked to the police station and reported that the shooting had started again. However, he said the ranks did nothing and instead told him “We gat it covered”. In less than two hours the teen was shot dead.
Brumell, when asked about charges being laid against anyone involved in the shooting, said, “Remember it is two divisions doing the matter. They said that bullet came from the East Bank [A Division] and D Division, so they are collaborating.”
Several persons were arrested, including a city businessman, and their hands swabbed for gunpowder residue. They were all released.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud had told this newspaper recently that police were at a dead end in their investigations. He said the “part of the warhead” recovered from Persaud’s body did not have the required marking for a comparison.
While confirming that persons were swabbed for gunpowder residue, he explained that a firearm was found among those detained but that weapon did not have the capacity to shoot over such a long distance. Persaud explained that the component removed from the child, and the calibre of the weapon found, did not match.
He explained that the component came from a bullet used with a 7.62-calibre weapon.
Security experts have expressed belief that the weapon that fired the bullet that hit the teen is new to Guyana and that at the time of the incident it was being tested.