The police in Berbice yesterday arrested a third suspect in Friday’s Potoko Creek, Berbice River ranch house robbery, which left two suspected bandits dead after a shootout with lawmen.
‘B’ Division Commander Lyndon Alves told Sunday Stabroek that the third man was arrested yesterday morning and that he, and the two others who were held on Friday, are being questioned in order to ascertain the whereabouts of the lone remaining suspect in the ranch house attack.
This newspaper was told that like the two slain suspects, Indarjit Sham, 38, and Amar Bissoon, 20, all three men in custody are from the East Canje area, with one being the alleged head of a known gang in Adelphi Village. He was previously arrested and charged numerous times for armed robbery and other offences.
Police said on Friday that six men carried out the attack on the Potoko Creek ranch house, where they held three labourers at gunpoint. The bandits then rounded up livestock and other valuables, which they loaded on to a boat and then made good their escape.
While police had said the attack occurred around 5 am, one of the three labourers yesterday said that the men attacked sometime after 2 am on Friday morning. While the man was reluctant to speak, he related that the bandits took away their cellphones, tied them up and threatened to kill them throughout the robbery. However, he disclosed that one of the labourers quietly escaped and ran to a nearby camp, where he informed the labourers there what was happening. They then phoned the Vryheid Village, West Canje businessman who owns the ranch house and he immediately informed the police and headed to the area with lawmen.
Additionally, this publication was told that the businessman, who owns a trucking service, had been robbed several times in years past. However, in this instance, the police responded swiftly.
Alves yesterday said that a better response to incidents in the remote Canje Creek and Berbice River areas is being worked on. He also said the police are seeking to build a relationship with the communities in order to improve intelligence gathering and by extension the policing in those areas.
‘Never get red hand catch’
In a statement, police had said that after the report of the robbery, a party of lawmen, under the supervision of a senior detective, acting on intelligence, intercepted two of the six suspects in a boat on the Berbice River.
The statement added that after apprehending the two suspects, the police proceeded to a location where they found the stolen livestock, comprising sheep and ducks, and the other stolen property loaded inside of a camouflage aluminum boat.
It was at this point that Sham and Bissoon allegedly opened fire on the police, resulting in the fatal shootout.
“Soon after the lawmen disembarked their boat, they were confronted by the now dead men who discharged several rounds at them; the officers quickly adapted tactical positions, returned fire and fatally wounded the men who have been positively identified by the victims as members of the gang who committed the robbery,” the statement said.
A 12-gauge pump action shotgun, a .32 pistol and live and spent ammunition were recovered afterwards.
Relatives of Sham, a cane harvester and gardener of Lot 51 Betsy Ground Village, East Canje Berbice, were in total shock at his demise yesterday although they said they had encouraged him to change his ways for the sake of his wife and three children, ages 14, 15 and 17.
His father, Mansaram Sham, 57, noted that the last time he spoke with his son was about one month ago. “Me does tell he, ‘Boy don’t do wrong thing, ease youself,’ and he does say, ‘Yes daddy,’ [that] he go stop do wrong thing,” he further said.
The father could not confirm exactly what his son was involved in, but he acknowledged that Indarjit was accused numerous times of robbery. “He get accuse plenty time. He been get lock up and thing and he come out because he never get red hand catch,” the senior Sham said.
He also noted that his son took “real good care of he children.”
Sham’s brother, Nandkumar Sham, 35, a fisherman of Gangaram Village, East Canje, told Sunday Stabroek that he too had advised his brother to stay away from “wrong things.”
Nevertheless, he added that the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death seem “fishy” to him. “I still don’t believe me brother doing that wah happen deh. Me never know me brother was a gunman,” he explained.
He also recalled that he last spoke to his brother on Thursday and the man related that someone was stealing his line that he had set in the Canje Creek for fish. He added that his brother did not mention that he was heading into the Berbice River to fish on Friday. “Me and he does always go in [Canje] Creek and fish and we does use me boat,” he noted.
Nandkumar pointed out that the location where his brother was reportedly shot is some 20 miles away from where they would normally head to fish.
‘A good boy’
Meanwhile, the relatives of Bissoon, also known as ‘Punk,’ of Adelphi Settlement, East Canje, Berbice, refused to speak with this newspaper yesterday. However, this publication was told by residents of the area that Bissoon was a graduate of the New Amsterdam Multilateral Secondary School, one of the leading schools in Berbice.
The residents believe that it was Bissoon’s company who led him astray. One woman, who did not want to be named due to her fear that she would be targeted, told this publication that after graduating from the secondary school the lad was seen hanging around the area with known drug addicts. “Every time you can’t just arrest and charge them. When they come out is same thing. This boy was a good boy. We never hear anything about him. And it get more school children coming out now, same thing they might end up in. Someone got to look into this from the bottom and then this village can change,” she said.
Additionally, she said, there are several “gangs” operating in the area for years now. She stressed that this too needs to be looked at. “We need jobs and things for them children [to] do after school instead fa go and hang out with them dope boys,” she added.
On several occasions, the residents of Adelphi Village, East Canje, have called for something to be done at the grassroots level about drug abuse in the village.