Casino guard arrested

– admits planning Ramada Princess heist

A security guard attached to the Ramada Princess Hotel’s Casino is the second suspect to be arrested by the police in relation to Friday morning’s robbery and he has since admitted to being one of the two persons who plotted the crime.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that a total of seven persons carried out the early morning heist at the casino, which is located at Providence, East Bank Demerara, carting off a still undisclosed amount of cash.

The first suspect, Wayne Griffith, was held as the robbers made their getaway on Friday morning. The security guard who is now also in custody has been identified as Andrew Blackman.

Blackman, who was arrested between Friday evening and yesterday morning, reportedly told investigators that he was one of two persons who planned the act. A source said that under interrogation, he admitted to providing the bandits with the strategic information needed.

Blackman said that he and an accomplice, who is still wanted, conducted surveillance of the casino, on two occasions prior to the robbery. He worked on Thursday and ended his shift at 23:00 hrs, just over three hours before the robbery occurred.

Blackman reportedly told investigators that once he came off duty, he met the other men in the city where they rehearsed the plan before he retired home. It was also decided that after the robbery was carried out, the bandits would meet at a house in Albouystown where one suspect resides, and split the loot.

As was previously reported, the incident occurred around 03:45 hrs and resulted in five persons, including Lance Corporal 17352 Andrew Richardson, sustaining injuries.

Four of the casino’s employees, clerk Eon Garraway, 32; James Gregory; Orlando Knights and Udairan Sookraj, were shot to their left hand, left foot, left hand and right hand respectively. They were treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital and discharged. Richardson remains hospitalised.

The Guyana Police Force said in a statement that four gunmen entered the casino and discharged rounds in the air. They held up the security guard who was on duty and took away his shotgun and ammunition.

According to the statement, the men then ordered everyone to lie on the ground and they took the security guard to the cashier cage, where they held up the cashier and took away an undisclosed amount of local and foreign currency.

It was during this process that the perpetrators discharged rounds indiscriminately, resulting in four employees sustaining injuries, the statement said. Three patrons of the casino—Melissa Ferguson, Jermaine Mason and Roshel Fraser—were also assaulted by the gunmen.

Police ranks responded to a report received and confronted the bandits at the hotel, where there was an exchange of gunfire, which resulted in the police officer being shot, the statement added.

Contacted yesterday afternoon, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum confirmed that two persons are now in custody.

Blanhum said investigators are making every effort to arrest five other persons who they were unable to locate up to late yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the vehicle which was used to transport the men to the scene, and which bore licence plate PRR 2545, was found on a dam, south of the premises. The men apparently gained entry to the hotel’s compound by driving up a dam, before scaling the fence.

Blanhum said the vehicle has been dusted for fingerprints. The vehicle was reported stolen last Sunday from Buxton.

A patron had told this newspaper that he was in the casino with some friends when he heard someone ordering everyone present to lie on the floor. He said at first he thought it was a joke until he saw one man armed with a gun. “I try to hide my money in my boots then another one come around me and say, ‘Fat man what you have there? Pass what you got’ and I throw my phone and give him,” the man had said.