Slain activist was shot five times, three times to head – autopsy finds

An autopsy yesterday revealed that murdered political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing was shot five times, including three times to the head and another at point-blank range from behind his neck, and up to last evening police seemed no closer to positively identifying the person or persons responsible.

Crum-Ewing’s mother, Donna Harcourt, told Stabroek News that according to what the police told her following the post-mortem examination, her son died as a result of shock and hemorrhage due to gunshot injuries.

Earlier, attorney Nigel Hughes, who represented the man when he was alive, posted on his Facebook page that the father of three was shot five times and that three of the bullets struck him to the head.

Courtney Crum-Ewing
Courtney Crum-Ewing

According to Hughes, gunpowder residue was found on the collar at the back of the shirt that Crum-Ewing was wearing. Hughes said Crum-Ewing was shot three times in the head and another shot was at point-blank range from behind his neck and one from under his arm pit, exiting above his shoulder. Two warheads have been recovered from the head of the deceased, he added.

Stabroek News was told that Hughes, acting in the interest of Crum-Ewing’s family, had attempted to have a Trinidad-based pathologist witness the autopsy. However, from all indications the pathologist was unable to come but gave certain instructions to the attorney with regards to the collection of evidence from the body, which he will view at a later date.

Contacted last evening, Crime Chief Leslie James said that there have been no developments in the investigation. He added that the ranks were still “doing work” in the Diamond area where the man was killed.

Harcourt told Stabroek News that she has heard nothing more from the police. On Wednesday, Divisional Commander Clifton Hicken, after giving the woman an update on the investigation, had given all assurances that he will not rest until the case is solved.

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 when elections are held on May 11th but to take to the polls to oust the incumbent PPP/C government. He was shot dead soon after. Police initially said a car with four men drove up and discharged shots at him and then drove off.

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 provided the police with the names of two persons who had threatened him but based on what this newspaper was told his complaints were never investigated.

For weeks, 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. It was as a result of this protest action that he said he was threatened.

There have been conflicting accounts about what exactly transpired on Tuesday night in the minutes prior and following the murder. Yesterday one source insisted that one car was involved in the attack, not two.

The source recalled hearing Crum-Ewing on his bullhorn before seeing him walking along the street where he was killed. Harcourt, during an interview with Stabroek News, had questioned why he would have ventured into the area where he was shot, since none of the houses towards the end of that street are occupied.

But based on the explanations given to this newspaper yesterday, Crum-Ewing was using the street as a short cut to gain access to adjoining street where persons lived.

The source said it was soon after he passed a lit street light that gunshots were heard. According to the source, because of the brightness of the light one cannot see beyond it. The source said that it would appear that the shooter arrived in a car from a street adjoining the one to which Crum-Ewing was headed. It was suggested that after the shooting, the driver reversed and used the same street as the exit. The source insisted that it was pointless to check the tapes of surveillance cameras mounted on a nearby supermarket since the car did not pass there either going or leaving.

Police had said that a review of the footage revealed nothing of use.

Meanwhile, opposition leader David Granger yesterday dismissed a suggestion of an opposition link to the killing. “It is really farfetched to think that members of the opposition would have done that,” he said in response to a question from a state media representative about criticism that the execution was orchestrated by elements of the opposition to pin it on the PPP in the run up to elections.

“I think the likelihood of such an execution is extremely remote and I think the tragedy should not be converted into farce,” Granger added, during APNU’s weekly press briefing. He stated that Crum-Ewing was a public figure, who picketed alongside APNU though he was not part of the coalition, as well as on his own.

He said it is sad that someone would try to suggest that his comrades with whom he was protesting against a “brutish regime” could actually kill him.

According to Granger, he had heard the president’s charge to the police to leave no stone unturned in finding those responsible but he is skeptical of the police’s ability to conduct a thorough investigation. He said that the opposition coalition is looking forward to information that would lead to the arrest of the assailants.

Crum-Ewing will be laid to rest next Wednesday.

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