Following an argument, Captain Orwain Sandy, the army Chief-of-Staff’s personal assistant, riddled his common-law wife with bullets at Alexander Village, Georgetown yesterday morning and then turned himself over to the police.
Dead is Reona Payne, 32, a travel agent at the Muneshwers Travel Agency, who sustained 14 gunshot wounds about her body. She died on spot.
The killing took place around 10.15 am at First Street, Alexander Village, after which Sandy drove himself to the Ruimveldt Police Station and informed the police there of what transpired.
He also handed over the suspected murder weapon and was subsequently placed into custody.
Although both Sandy and Payne were married to other people, they were living together for about five years at Sandy’s Lot 771 Providence, East Bank Demerara home.
In a statement yesterday, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) confirmed that Sandy was immediately interdicted from duties and announced that an inquiry has been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting.
“The Force is truly saddened by this occurrence and would want to reassure the general populace that this is an isolated incident and is not reflective of the Values and Standards of the Guyana Defence Force,” the statement noted.
It added that the Chief-of-Staff Brigadier Patrick West has since ordered the Inspector General of the GDF to conduct a board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Sunday Stabroek was told by friends of the couple that they had been experiencing problems. Sandy has claimed that Payne was involved in a relationship with another rank of the GDF.
This newspaper learned that around 8am, Sandy and Payne left home in his vehicle, PWW 7163, for her workplace. On their way, an argument reportedly ensued over the woman’s other relationship and Sandy instructed her to end it.
He drove to Indepen-dence Boulevard, where he collected a tent he had taken for repair and then he proceeded to First Street, Alexander Village.
Sandy has told investigators that it was at this point that Payne reportedly held on to the steering wheel of the vehicle and removed Sandy’s firearm, which was being stored between the two front seats. She reportedly threw the firearm through the window and began to scream.
However, Sandy stopped and exited the vehicle to retrieve his firearm. As he was returning to the vehicle, Payne reportedly jumped out and began to run east along the street.
As a result, Sandy confronted her about her behaviour and shot her multiple times about her body. He then drove to the police station.
Strong enough to walk away
At the scene, a large crowd gathered to view Payne’s body, which was lying face down at the corner of the road, covered with a cloth.
While several ranks were present at the scene, Payne’s body remained there for almost three hours. It was not removed until after being processed by crime scene ranks, who took close to one hour to arrive at the scene. Upon their arrival, a length of rope which was used to temporarily cordon off the crime scene was removed and replaced with crime scene tape and the scene was processed. Police retrieved fourteen 9mm spent shells and a metal fragment at the scene.
The hearse later arrived and Payne was stripped of several pieces of jewellery that she was wearing, including a wedding ring, and then taken away.
At the police station, relatives and friends of the couple turned up in their numbers and as a result ranks were forced to lock the gate of the compound when they escorted Sandy to his vehicle, which was parked in the yard, to assist with the investigation.
Among those present outside the police station was Sandy’s wife, Amanda Nedd and Payne’s husband, Beverney (only name given). Payne’s three children were also there and were weeping as they called out for her.
Beverney told reporters that he and Payne had been separated for some time now but they still talked almost every day.
“…Because you have to be strong even if you separated from somebody. You have to be strong enough to walk away from problems and still love them from a distance,” he said.
The man said he was aware of the couple’s problems and would constantly talk to them. “I talk with them. He is a soldier and she should be strong enough to walk away from the problem but she choose to stay,” he said.
According to Beverney, the children were staying with Payne and he only collected them on Thursday. “Soon as I collect my children, he kill their mother. What is that?” he cried, before adding that Sandy “must be [made] a living example” lest the wrong message is sent to society.
A co-worker said that she had worked with Payne for seven years. The woman said Payne was scheduled to turn up for work at 9 am. After she did not show, she tried to call her but the calls went unanswered.
Many residents of Alexander Village told Sunday Stabroek that they were going about their normal routines when they heard the gunshots ringing out. Upon checking, they said they saw a large crowd rushing to the scene and Payne’s body was lying at the corner of the road.
“I just hear shot, shot, shot, so I didn’t know what really did going on and I get so scared I sit down flat on the floor. When I catch myself and ask a man he tell me watch the girl [Payne] just get shoot,” a woman said.
A snackette owner who operates in the street where the shooting occurred said he was attending to customers when he heard the gunshots. “I didn’t hear any argument or so before. When I get to know is when I hear the shots and I see the man [Sandy] mek one turn back with the vehicle and he drive out straight deh [pointing to the street leading to the police station],” the man said.
Relatives and friends of Sandy described him as a very polite and quiet individual. “This is not Sandy,” a friend noted in reference to the killing.