Police yesterday received approval to further detain nine of the 17 suspects arrested in connection with recent armed robberies in the West Demerara and Wakenaam Island areas until Saturday, according to Crime Chief Seelall Persaud.
Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday that the police sought the advice of the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). “We got extension[s] until Saturday for nine of the suspects,” he said, while adding that the remaining persons would be released on station bail.
Up to late yesterday afternoon, police had not made any more arrests and were still looking for Campbellville youth Keifa Small, who is said to be the mastermind behind the robberies, which occurred on September 7 and September 10, at Wakenaam and Meten-Meer-Zorg, respectively. He is also said to be the armed man who managed to escape from police during a foiled robbery at Kastev Housing Scheme, Meten–Meer-Zorg on Monday and the prime suspect in the murder of Meten-Meer-Zorg grocer Zulficar Namdar.
During the Kastev Housing Scheme confrontation on Monday, police shot and killed Small’s alleged accomplice Kirk Bacchus, of Paradise, East Coast Demerara and a gun he had in his possession has been linked to Namdar’s murder. Police subsequently issued a wanted bulletin for Small, who is wanted for questioning into that murder.
Police had gotten wind of a plan to commit a robbery at the office of a mining operation located in Kastev Housing Scheme. Ranks made arrangements to occupy the building as well as nearby locations. Around 10 am, two cars pulled up in front of the building and four men exited. When they went into the building, they were confronted by the police ranks. Two of the men were subsequently held while two fled on foot. Reports are that the fleeing duo headed to Tarla Dam, where they were reportedly seen shooting at ranks who were trailing them in a taxi.
It was on Tarla Dam that Bacchus was shot dead by police, while the second man, suspected to be Small, rode across a foot bridge on a stolen bicycle and escaped.
Following the confrontation, police arrested 15 persons from various locations in the West Demerara area. Among them was a boat operator, who as reportedly found with a 9MM pistol and six rounds. Police had previously said that the same two firearms were used in the robbery/murder of Namdar and the Wakenaam Island robbery, during which businessman Anand Danishore was shot after he came face to face with the gunmen.
It is suspected that with the capture of the duo and subsequent arrests, investigators managed to smash a criminal gang.
Meanwhile, Stabroek News was informed that the fleeing gunmen attempted to enter the compound of the Meten-Meer-Zorg Primary School on Monday in their attempt to evade the police, who were hot on their trail. The school is located a short distance away from the location where the robbery was to have taken place.
This newspaper was told that as the break period approached, students and teachers heard about four gunshots, which sounded as though they were coming from the neighbouring village of De Willem. As a result, the children were kept in their classrooms and the front gate to their school was immediately padlocked.
A source said that minutes later, a green car, driven by a shirtless man, pulled up in front of the school. The passenger, described as “strapping,” exited the vehicle and stood by the gate. The source said that the man, who remained silent, began shaking the school gate in an apparent attempt to enter. However, persons in the compound told him to use the side gate.
The source said that the men apparently saw that police were coming in their direction and the man ran off in the direction of the seawall, which is located behind the school, while the car sped away.
The source said that some ranks were on foot and some were in a white police vehicle. After that, the source said, everyone took cover. Shortly after, a single gunshot was heard coming from the direction of the seawall.
The source opined that the men’s intention was to seek refuge in the school until the police had gone. The source added that it probably would have been easy for them to hide as the children would have ventured into the yard on their break if gunshots had not been heard. “There would been children all over so even if police had seen them the ranks could not have fired shots because the children was there,” the source explained.