Murdered Essequibo businesswoman Shelliza Basir-Lall was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time when two gunmen walked into the Mambo Bar in 2013 and opened fire and from all indications the key to solving this mystery is the couple who entered the establishment just seconds before the gunshots rang out.
Stabroek News was recently told that there is a strong belief that the couple who entered the bar and sat at the table with Basir-Lall, her husband Raymond and a few others might have been the target. It would appear that shots might have been fired at the 33-year-old woman mistakenly.
Sources say that the couple may have been trailed by the gunmen who entered the bar holding high-powered weapons.
In the days after the shooting, there were reports that the woman’s husband who is gold miner was the target. At the time of her death, the woman was managing her father’s gas station which is located at Charity, Essequibo Coast.
So far, police have not been able to charge anyone with the crime. The closest they came was the arrest of West Demerara businessman Salim Azeez who was released less than 24 hours later after his lawyers filed habeas corpus proceedings. Police had also claimed that they detained the man who was believed to be the target of the attack but it would appear that whatever information was gathered from him did not materialize into anything of substance.
Police had said that around 00:20 hours on September 29, 2013 Basir-Lall of Charity, Essequibo Coast, was shot and killed by one of two men who burst into the Kitty bar.
According to the police, investigations revealed that Lall, her husband Raymond, Babatunde Nedd and Permanand Persaud were at the Mambo Bar on Barr Street when the suspects entered and discharged several rounds hitting them. The woman and her husband were taken to a private hospital where Shelliza was pronounced dead on arrival while Raymond was admitted. Persaud and Nedd were admitted to Woodlands Hospital.
Nedd subsequently told this newspaper that there was no time to see who or from which direction the gunshots originated. He said that when he heard the shots all he did was look for cover.
Basir-Lall sustained three gunshot wounds; two to her thighs, and another to her torso.
Contacted, her brother Farouk told Stabroek News that they have heard nothing from the police and are still awaiting word from Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee on their request for him to look into the matter. He recalled last checking with the police one year after his sister’s murder. He said that given the lack of information, he is not encouraged to pursue the matter.
The man stated that to date the circumstances surrounding how his elder sibling came to be fatally shot are still sketchy. He expressed certainty that his sister was not the target and that she was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. He opined that the gunmen were after someone else.
He said based on the little he has gathered, his sister and her husband were at the bar that she often went to whenever she was in the city, with a group of friends. He said there were approximately six to seven persons at the table when two men walked in and opened fire.
Farouk stated that based on what had occurred it was no robbery or attempted robbery but rather an attack on someone in the group. Describing their relationship as a close one he said his sister never confided in him that she had an issue with anyone.
Meanwhile, the woman’s father Maqbool Basir, the assistant chairman of the Region Two, Neighbour Democratic Council (NDC) revealed that she was on her way home when she decided to return to Georgetown because she was tired.
The elder Basir expressed the view that had she not done so she would have still been alive today.
He explained she and her husband was setting up an operation at an interior location and were supposed to travel there the next morning (September 30). He said his daughter and the manager were returning to Essequibo but while at Parika she decided to return to Georgetown. He said that his daughter had related to him that she would return to the hotel, have a bath and relax.
The man said Raymond had to go on an errand and Basir-Lall decided to accompany him. They subsequently ended up at the bar, he said, adding that the shooting occurred while the group was on its second round of drinks.
According to Basir, he has not “taken up” the issue instead he has left it to the woman’s husband. He said when he spoke to the man sometime last year, he stated that the investigation was still in progress.
Basir made it clear that he is afraid to pursue the matter. “I wouldn’t go further. If I try to investigate something could happen to me. I am afraid to investigate,” he said.
At this point all he can do is hope that the killer will be caught. He said whenever he thinks about his daughter he gets emotional. “If she wasn’t there this would have taken place,” he added.
The police have been heavily criticized for the way in which they initially investigated the murder. Residents had said that the police had turned up half an hour after the gunmen had fled, although a police station is less than a five-minute walk away.
They had expressed the view that had the police response been immediate they might have been able to track down the white car in which the gunmen reportedly fled.
One resident had recalled hearing 15 to 18 loud sounds which he immediately recognized as gunshots. Believing that the bar was under attack by armed robbers he ducked for cover and lay low until he felt it was safe for him to emerge. He said that seconds after the gunshots he heard a car pull off followed by silence. According to the resident at no time did he hear screaming; not before and not after the shots were fired.
The resident, who knew the number for the Kitty Police Station dialled it, reported the shooting and gave the address.
Other residents had said they called the station and 911 several times. There was no response to the 911 number.