The Albouystown youths who died after an alleged shoot-out on Saturday with police had been dropped off close to the South Road scene in a vehicle which had false number plates, according to Crime Chief Seelall Persaud.
Police had said in a press release that at around 8.30 pm, three men exited a white car bearing registration number PPP 8539, which had stopped on Alexander Street, a few feet away from the K&VC hotel where they were headed to allegedly commit an armed robbery.
Asked yesterday about this vehicle, Persaud told Stabroek News that it had “false plates” and had not yet been found.
The location of this vehicle is a key part of the investigation and observers have criticized the police for seemingly failing to take this into account during their operation. The police said that they had staked out the hotel after receiving information that an occupant was the target of an impending robbery.
Police said too that they challenged the three men as they were making their way to K&VC Hotel and the men opened fire, forcing them to return fire. It is yet to be stated by the police whether they had posted ranks in Camp, Alexander, Croal and Charlotte streets – these streets form the perimeter around the hotel – to intercept the vehicle.
Other persons who say they had witnessed the incident have told the media that cousins Mark Anthony Joseph, 19, and Jermaine Canterbury, 21, both of Lot 19 Hogg Street along with Romario Gouveia age 19 were put to lie on the roadway and shot by ranks. These accounts vary sharply from that of the police. Persons on the scene alleged that it was only the police who fired shots and that the men had no weapons. The police however said they retrieved two handguns with live rounds.
Canterbury was pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Hospital while Joseph died shortly after. Gouveia who sustained a gunshot wound to the jaw died suddenly on Monday. Relatives had said that the doctors had given him a good prognosis and said that the teen’s condition was stable. Gouveia was struck by a bullet behind his right ear and it exited through the right cheek. He had been alert the previous day and was interacting with relatives.
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 on South Road opposite Demerara Bank 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.
The man said that at some point the suspect 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 had said.
Police have since asked persons who may have witnessed the shooting to come forward. In the meantime the CID and Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) are conducting investigations.
Meanwhile Donald Gouveia told Stabroek News that the independent autopsy on Romario Gouveia that they were hoping for may not be possible as it is too expensive. The man had expressed the desire for a post-mortem being done by a person not affiliated with the police force.
The elder Gouveia told Stabroek News that the cost will be too much as they would have to fly in someone from Trinidad. He said that he is currently seeking the advice of an authority as to what are his options not
only with the independent autopsy but what legal action he can take against the police.
The post-mortem examination is expected to be conducted by the government pathologist on Friday. Relatives said that the teen would be buried the following day.
The relatives of the cousins said that they have moved the bodies to a private funeral home and will be checking them to see how many times they had been shot. Police said that the post- mortem on Monday revealed that they had been shot multiple times.
“We lef everything in God’s hands”, a relative said yesterday while stressing that they are hurting a lot not only because of the manner in which they died but due to the fact that they were both very young. “They were brutally killed. It really hurt us a lot. Who feels it knows it”, the relative said between sobs.
Stabroek News was told that relatives of the cousins have also made contact with a lawyer. The cousins will be laid to rest on Friday.