Hunt on for mastermind after 17 arrested over West Dem, Wakenaam attacks

– dead suspect’s gun linked to grocer’s slaying

A Campbellville youth, believed to be the mastermind behind recent robberies on the West Demerara area and Wakenaam island, is being sought by police, who on the heels of 17 arrests are confident that they have smashed the gang responsible for the attacks.

Keifa Small, called ‘Frog Eye,’ of Lot 74 Campbellville Housing Scheme, Georgetown, is reportedly the man who escaped after a shootout with police at Kastev Housing Scheme, Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara on Monday, where suspected robber Kirk Bacchus was killed and two other persons were captured.

Small, said to be in his early 20s, is also wanted for questioning in the murder of Meten-Meer-Zorg businessman Zulficar Namdar, who was shot dead when about five gunmen invaded his shop on September 10 and managed to escape with at least $1 million in cash. A gun that police said was recovered on Bacchus has been matched with a shell recovered from the scene of Namdar’s murder.

Keifa Small
Keifa Small

Small is also being linked to the September 7 armed robbery at Wakenaam, during which businessman Anand Danishore, who owns several trawlers and is involved in the lumber trade, was shot and wounded after his home was robbed.

Anyone with information that may lead to Small’s arrest is asked to contact the police on telephone numbers 225-6411, 226-6978, 268-2298, 268-2222, 911 or the nearest police station.

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud on Monday said that there was link between the suspects in the shootout and the two other attacks.

In addition to the two men held after the shootout with police, 15 more persons including a boat operator were detained by the end of Monday.

Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday that the 9 mm shell recovered from the scene of Namdar’s murder matched the firearm recovered from Bacchus. It is unclear whether the 9 mm pistol and six rounds recovered from the boat operator matched any of the three crime scenes. But what was certain, based on ballistics’ analyses, is that the same two weapons used in the Namdar robbery-murder were also used in the Wakenaam attack.

Police on Monday staked out an area at Kastev Housing Scheme, after receiving information about a planned robbery. Stabroek News was yesterday told that contrary to what was previously reported, the building where the police confronted the suspected robbers is not abandoned or under construction although a perimeter fence was still to be added to the property.

A source told this newspaper that the building is used as an office for a mining operation and business there included making payments to workers of the mining operation and other transactions in which cash was used. The office has been at that location for about two to three years and is open on a daily basis, the source said.

It was police ranks operating out of Georgetown who informed persons at the office that a robbery was being planned targeting the location. The source said that the ranks asked for some cooperation and a plan was put into motion to intercept the robbers. Hours before the robbery was to have taken place, ranks secreted themselves inside the building as well as in nearby buildings and out-of-sight locations, including the seawall.

Bacchus and the other men eventually arrived in two cars and entered the building around 10 am. It was at this point that ranks, who were in plain clothes, confronted them inside, by which time the others outside had emerged from their hideouts.

It would appear that the robbery suspects panicked and fled in all directions. The source said that two of the men and their cars (HB 7644 and PPP 9366) were intercepted right at the location while Bacchus and another man, who were both armed, headed towards ‘Tarla Dam.’

Police followed in a taxi and traded gunfire with the fleeing men. The ranks managed to reach Bacchus before he could cross a bridge, while the other man, who at some point managed to steal a bicycle, escaped and was later said to be hiding out in a cemetery in the community. Numerous residents recalled seeing him with a weapon hanging over his shoulder.  The source told this newspaper that there is still a sense of fear in the Meten-Meer-Zorg community, especially with the fourth gunman still on the run. “We are on alert… the workers are scared. The whole village is tense,” the source said, while stressing that in the light of the situation workers attached to the office and the mining business will have to be screened.

Asked if it came as a surprise that one of men escaped given the number of policemen present, the source responded in the negative. “People get nervous especially when they see firearm…,” the source said.

Persaud, while speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, also used the opportunity to thank the residents for their cooperation and to praise ranks for their success in foiling a crime.

“I would like to indicate my thanks to the residents for the assistance and support they gave us during the investigation,” he said, while adding that it was also the hard work of the police ranks that led to the 17 arrests.

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