The police say that two men they killed on South Road on Saturday night died in a shoot-out and had been about to rob an occupant of the K&VC Hotel.
Relatives, however, continue to reject these allegations.
Twenty-one-year-old Jermaine Canterbury and 19-year-old-Mark Joseph,
cousins and both of 19 Hogg Street, Albouystown, died in the confrontation while 19-year-old Romario Gouveia was seriously injured.
Canterbury was pronounced dead at the hospital while Joseph died while receiving treatment. All three men were taken to the hospital at around 20:45 by police.
The Guyana Police Force in a release yesterday said that some of their ranks, acting on information that an occupant of the Hotel was the target of an impending robbery, staked out the hotel.
Around 20:30 hrs, the release said, three men exited a white car “bearing registration number PPP 8539” which had stopped on Alexander Street a few feet away. Police say they challenged the three men as they were making their way to K&VC Hotel, and that the men opened fire, forcing them to return fire. The police also released a photograph of two guns they said were retrieved from the site of the confrontation and a wig. Police also issued information showing that all three men had previously been charged with robbery.
Yesterday, staff of the hotel said that when they heard the gunshots they ran to close the main entrance in an effort to secure themselves and the customers. None of the hotel’s employees witnessed what transpired.
Several sources though, including the survivor of the shooting, offered a different account of what the police say happened. Speaking to reporters from his hospital bed on Saturday evening, Gouveia told reporters that there was no gunfight. He said that the police approached him as he was walking, ordered him to lie down on the road, and then shot him once to his head.
The boy’s father yesterday told Stabroek News that the bullet struck his son behind his right ear and then exited his body through his right cheek. Up to yesterday afternoon he remained in a stable condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital. His father told Stabroek News that he is fearful for the life of his son and therefore stayed at the hospital until 07:00 hrs yesterday. Since that time, he said, a few relatives and friends have been frequenting the hospital to make sure he is ok.
Gouveia told reporters that he was the last to be shot. He said that he was farther up the road when the police approached him and ordered him back to the vicinity of the hotel. When he arrived near the hotel, Gouveia said, Canterbury and Joseph were lying face down on the road and bleeding. He assumed that they were dead. It was at this point, he said, that he was told to lie down, and then was shot as well. All three of the shot men were reportedly placed onto the police vehicle and taken to the hospital. While being transported by the police, Gouveia alleges, the police shot his friends a few more times.
Persons who were at the hotel also recalled hearing gunshots as the police vehicle was making its way to the hospital with the three men.
One source, who claims to have witnessed what played out between the police and the three men, said one of them was confronted by the police and was made to reveal the contents of his pocket.
“The man open he pocket and tek out and show it was his phone alone he had in he pocket,” the man said, while he exclaimed, “They can’t kill people like that. That is wrong.” Stabroek News was also told that after he was confronted, the man attempted to flee and ran west along South Road past the Tourism Ministry but was eventually caught and taken back to the bank area.
He said that at some point the man and the police got into a scuffle and ended up in the nearby trench. After the two came out of the trench, the police allegedly kicked the man before taking him in the vicinity of the hotel where they were all shot. “They tell them go down on the ground and turn them face and shoot them man,” one person said.
The police release yesterday said that an unlicensed .32 revolver with two live rounds and one spent shell, along with an unlicensed .38 snub-nose revolver along with three live rounds and three spent shells were recovered from the scene.
But relatives and friends says that none of the young men was known to carry a firearm. The mothers of Anthony and Canterbury yesterday said that they never noticed or were aware of a firearm in the possession of their sons, while Gouveia’s father said the same.
Relatives of the men say they acnowledge that the boys had bad antecedents, but maintained that they never carried firearms, and that they never did anything which warranted this kind of police action.
Canterbury was among three persons charged in 2010 with robbing Rajendra Singh of First Choice Jewelry Store and Pawnshop. He was released from prison on March 27, 2012 on bail in the sum of $100,000. Joseph was released from prison on January 22, 2013, on bail in the sum of $150,000.00, after being charged with robbery under arms committed on Andrew Yaw in December 2012. He also reportedly snatched a firearm from Police Constable Alan Yaw and tried to escape. Joseph was reportedly shot in the process.
Romario Gouveia was released from prison on May 06, 2013, on bail in the sum of $200,000, after being charged with robbery under arms committed on Cecil Gajadhar on March 25, 2013