By Desilon Daniels
A La Parfaite Harmonie shopkeeper is currently in hospital nursing gunshot wounds after she was shot twice and relieved of $750,000 in a brazen daylight attack at her business/home.
Ann Gravesande of 382 23rd Street, Westminster would never have imagined when she woke up yesterday morning that in a few hours she would have been fighting tooth and nail to protect her life and possessions.
Speaking from her bed at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH), the 52-year-old woman revealed that her attackers were known to her. She explained she was in her shop, which she had been running for five years, around 10:30 hrs when a customer arrived to make a purchase. The man, who appeared to be in his early 50s, she said, would regularly patronise the shop and had told her once that he worked in the area.
Gravesande said the man purchased a 5-litre bottle of water along with a soda. He was with another younger man and they were soon joined by a third man, who could have been in his 30s.
The business transaction was completed, she said, but the men lingered at the shop feigning a struggle with the water bottle. Suddenly, one of the younger men demanded that Gravesande hand over her wedding ring.
Mildly surprised, the woman refused and was met with a gun pointed in her direction. Once again the demand was made but Gravesande stood her ground and refused. This time, a second gun was pulled on her by the other young man.
The woman was backed into the wall by one of the armed men, while the older ‘customer’ stood guard by the gate. A scuffle ensued and Gravesande said she screamed and put up a mighty fight; she managed to retain possession of her wedding ring.
Apparently irked by the shop-owner’s bravery, the second gun-toting bandit prompted the one struggling with her to “shoot she; kill she” as he made his way into her house adjoining the shop. However, a determined Gravesande held onto the gun.
Through her open windows, she observed the man head straight for a wardrobe in a bedroom and ransack it.
Though, by then, Gravesande had been screaming for some time, no one had made any attempt to go to her rescue. As her cries escalated, she was shot in her right arm and thigh; both bullets exited.
Having secured their loot, the men exited through the gate and ran to the corner where a yellow wagon with an HC series licence was waiting and made good their escape.
The wounded Grave-sande made her way to her bridge and continued to call for help. Soon after, residents from a street away, who had heard the commotion from the distance, went to her assistance and rushed her to the WDRH.
According to relatives of the woman, police arrived on the scene about half an hour after the men’s escape.
When Stabroek News visited the scene of the crime yesterday, a trail of blood from the side of the building to the bridge showed the telltale signs of Gravesande’s struggle and determination.
Hours later, when asked why she had remained steadfast in protecting her property, Gravesande ex-plained that she never really expected to be shot. She further explained that she was in a state of disbelief that these men who she knew would actually try to rob her. Even after the guns appeared she did not recognise the full gravity of the situation.
Gravesande lamented the fact that none of her nearby neighbours had tried to help her during the harrowing ordeal. She shared that one woman had been peeping by a front door as the robbery transpired.
Shaking her head, she bemoaned that persons from as far as a corner away had gone to her aid before her own neighbours.
Investigations into the matter are ongoing.
Despite her harrowing experience, Gravesande was nevertheless able to smile and show her wedding ring as her husband sat at her hospital bedside.