Prison escapee Uree Varswyk was shot dead minutes before midnight on Thursday during a Joint Services operation at Central Amelia’s Ward, Linden and ranks were up to last evening in hot pursuit of Bartica massacre convict Mark Royden Williams, who had been spotted with him.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum confirmed to Stabroek News that Varswyk, called ‘Malcolm Gordon,’ was shot dead around 11.45 pm during a confrontation with Joint Services ranks.
The Guyana Police Force, in a press statement that was issued yesterday, said that an intelligence-led operation was held in the mining town, during which Varswyk and Williams were seen.
They were approached by the police and there was an exchange of gunshots. “The police approached, they [Varswyk and Williams] opened fire and they [police] fired back,” the police said, while noting that Varswyk was shot as a result.
At the time of his death, Varswyk was wearing a camouflage vest and a pair of military boots.
A 9 mm pistol with 40 live rounds, a haversack and a bag containing medication, a gas mask, and camouflage clothing, toiletries and a cellular phone were found next to his body.
The police added that they were in “relentless pursuit” of Williams.
Blanhum also confirmed the arrest of four persons who allegedly harboured Varswyk and Williams since their escape.
Information reaching Stabroek News revealed that the duo were staying at a shack belonging to ex-police officer Tion Alleyne in Central Amelia’s Ward, Linden. The shack where the men were hiding out is located a short distance away from a police outpost.
Alleyne, 30, a resident of Lobora Creek, was on Tuesday charged and remanded to prison for harbouring the two men. He denied the charge which stated that between July 9 and July 23, he received, relieved, comforted, assisted and maintained Varswyk and Williams.
Bail was refused and the matter was adjourned until September 28.
Alleyne was taken into custody last week after police received information that he was seen in company of the wanted men. He was questioned and he reportedly admitted to detectives that he provided transportation and meals to the duo following their escape.
Other information revealed that Alleyne and Varswyk knew each other since they served together in the police force.
Alleyne was among three men who were arrested and charged in January after the police found an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9mm handgun at a Camp-bellville, Georgetown residence. The matter is still engaging the court.
As the operation to recapture Williams continues, the police have also set up road blocks in and around the mining town.
Blanhum said that the Guyana Police Force will continue to adopt its Joint Services and intelligence-led response that was laid out in ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ and continuously work with members of the public who have provided overwhelming support in an effort to recapture the remaining three escapees.
Varswyk and Williams, also known as ‘Smallie,’ were among six inmates who escaped from the Camp Street prison on July 9, when fires were set at the facility. Three of the six, Desmond James, Cornelius Thomas and Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander, have been apprehended. Another escapee, Cobena Stephens, remains on the lam.
Williams is believed to be the mastermind of the breakout, while based on eyewitness accounts, Varswyk played a major role.
Williams, who had previously attempted to escape lawful custody, was in February of this year sentenced to death after being convicted on seven of the twelve counts of murder in the February 17, 2008 Bartica massacre.
It was revealed by acting Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels at a press conference that based on eyewitness accounts it was Varswyk who shot and killed prison guard Odinga Wickham. Wickham, who was shot several times to the chest, succumbed at the Georgetown Public Hospital the same evening.
Varswyk was also identified as the person who shot and wounded three other prison officers: Jason Maltay, Drexel Gonsalves and another only identified as Liverpool.
Samuels said that all four prison officials gave the same account of being shot by Varswyk.
Maltay, 20, and another officer, Hubert Trim, 39, were ambushed in the administrative building. While Maltay was shot once in his right leg, Trim was beaten, and chopped several times about his body and thrown through a window.
Varswyk, a former Tactical Services Unit trainer, was last year committed to stand trial for the murder of Sterling Products Ltd security guard Wilfred Stewart, who was shot multiple times during a foiled robbery at the company’s Providence, East Bank Demerara headquarters.
Last month, the police announced a $10 million reward for any information leading to the arrest of Varswyk, Williams, Stephens and Paul Goriah.
Goriah was among thirteen inmates who fled from the holding facility at Lusignan on July 24 after digging a tunnel that took them under the fence and into the backlands. Eleven were recaptured, while one was killed.