A review of footage captured by cameras located in the Diamond, East Bank Demerara area, where political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing was gunned down, has revealed nothing useful, Crime Chief Leslie James said yesterday, while assuring that every aspect of the case is being pursued.
“Ranks are in the area but so far they have looked at some CCTV footage from residents nearby and nothing useful so far,” James yesterday told reporters at the end of the opening ceremony of the Police Officers’ Annual Conference.
He said that his last briefing was at 8AM. When Stabroek News made checks towards the end of the day, there had not been much progress.
Crum-Ewing, a 40-year-old father of three, was heard on a bullhorn shortly before 8PM on Tuesday. He was urging voters not to stay at home come May 11th but take to the polls to oust the incumbent PPP/C government. Then, gunshots erupted; first a single shot, followed by a break for a few seconds and then rapid fire.
Persons have linked Crum-Ewing’s murder to his political activism, saying it was most likely committed by persons who made threats to his life after he refused to end his open criticism of the government.
He had staged a one-man picket outside the office of Attorney General Anil Nandlall over statements the official had made in a recording that was made public last year.
Asked if there is anybody in high office that investigators may be looking at as a possible suspect, James responded, “I don’t know what you mean by high office. My brief has not included anything as such.”
Asked if the killing is being investigated from the angle that the shooting might have had something to do with his activism, he responded, “In all murder investigations we investigate it from all angles.”
Asked about the reports that the man had made at the Brickdam Police Station about threats to him, he emphasised that it is a murder investigation and all aspects of it will be checked out.
It was Crum-Ewing’s mother, Donna Harcourt, who had informed Stabroek News that he had made several reports of threats to the police. She questioned why the police never investigated those reports. She said Crum-Ewing’s protest angered some and a senior official was among those who had warned him to stop before he was harmed. That person’s name and that of at least one other official were given to the police, the woman said.
One resident of Diamond had told this newspaper that police ranks arrived at the scene within minutes of the shooting. However, the fact that none of them was attached to the Golden Grove Police Station, which is the nearest police station, the resident said, was highly suspicious.
Concerns have also been raised about how the police responded to the report of the shooting. There is nothing to indicate that ranks blocked off the only entry/exit point to the area or scoured the dark streets of the community to pick up some information that could tip them off about the direction in which the shooters drove.
The Diamond and adjoining Golden Grove communities have countless dark streets where persons involved in criminal activity can easily avoid detection.
When asked about the police’s response time, James yesterday said, “I understand that with this specific incident the response time was good….”
Asked how many persons may have committed the murder, James said he thinks it is too premature for the police to release this information “but we are currently doing our investigation.”
He stated that a number of .32 spent shells were recovered from the scene and ballistic tests will be done shortly to see whether there are any comparisons with those recovered at other crime scenes.
According to James, so far based on the information gathered a Toyota 212 vehicle was used. He could not provide any information on the colour of the vehicle.
The reports this newspaper received from the Diamond area is that two cars approached Crum-Ewing from both ends of the road. It would appear that the car lights were used as blinders. This newspaper was told that men, numbering about four, exited the vehicles, surrounded the man and shots were then fired. The men then jumped into the vehicles and sped off.
Contacted yesterday, Harcourt said that she had heard nothing more from the police but continues to get conflicting reports from persons living near the site of the shooting.
Last evening, a banner in memory of Crum-Ewing was mounted outside the AFC’s headquarters located at Railway Line, Kitty. It was adorned with photos of the man and read: “Only the ballot can stop the bullet! Keep calm. May 11th.” Member of the party Nigel Hughes, on his Facebook page, described Crum-Ewing as a national hero.