A policeman attached to ‘A’ Division and a rural constable, who were said to have been active participants in Tuesday’s attempted robbery of the Republic Bank branch at Water Street, Georgetown, which left one of the bandits dead, were arrested on Thursday night, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum has confirmed.
Speaking to Stabroek News last evening, Blanhum said the ranks were among four persons in police custody. He informed too that on Thursday police were granted an extension to detain the two other suspects – Republic Bank employee, Jamal Haynes, 24, of Norton Street, Georgetown and Keron Saunders.
Investigators, Blanhum said, will be aiming to complete investigations over the weekend with a view to instituting charges as early as Monday.
Elton Wray, also known as ‘Peas,’ 25, of Eccles, East Bank Demerara, was shot dead during the attack on the bank. Wray, a China-trained agronomist, and his accomplices were involved in a shootout with guards. Haynes was also shot and injured.
Stabroek News was told that investigators made the breakthrough on Thursday when the policeman and rural constable were arrested. Both are 21 years old and both reside in the Lodge area. The rural constable and Haynes were known to each other as they attended the same primary school and grew up close to each other.
Reports reaching this newspaper indicate that Haynes contacted the rural constable and told him about the plan to rob the bank. The rural constable then contacted the police constable and both of them agreed to go along with the others to rob the bank, Stabroek News was informed.
On Monday night, the duo met Haynes and Wray, who was the son of a senior immigration officer, in the vicinity of the National Cultural Centre, where they went over their plan. The following morning, they met at an Aubrey Barker Road location, where they again went over their plan before proceeding to a South Ruimveldt location, where they boarded a hijacked car.
The newspaper was told that they then went to a location in Tiger Bay. From there, Haynes, Wray and Saunders were transported by the police constable in the stolen car to Water Street, near the Vendors’ Arcade. The rural constable remained in Tiger Bay.
Stabroek News was told that after dropping the others off, the policeman parked the car behind the Vendors’ Arcade and remained there. However, on hearing gunshots and sensing that the plan had gone wrong, he fled, leaving the car abandoned.
The car was reportedly hijacked on Sunday evening at Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara.
Stabroek News understands that the rural constable was alerted to the shootout and he too abandoned the plan and left the Tiger Bay location.
It would appear that the plan was that after grabbing the money from the bank, the trio would run through the arcade, jump into the car and return to Tiger Bay. Once there they were to split up the money and go their separate ways.
Based on all the available information, Wray, Haynes and Saunders, all wearing masks, stormed the bank around 7.35 am. They used one of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) rooms to gain entry to the adjoining ground floor of the bank as employees were entering the building. The bank was not yet open for business.
Once there, they reportedly ran towards an area where there were canisters but they discovered that they were empty. Because the men opened fire, members of the Professional Guard Service (PGS), which guards the bank, responded promptly, took up positions and engaged them.
Bank workers were taken as hostages during the bandits’ attempts to flee but none were harmed.
Wray was shot once in his chest by a guard while trying to escape and was later pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH), where he was taken for treatment.
Haynes, said to be Wray’s best friend, was shot in both of his legs and was admitted as a patient at the GPH under police guard. Saunders was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department at Eve Leary.