An Alliance, Canal Number 2, West Bank Demerara family was terrorised by armed bandits early yesterday morning in a brazen attack that ended when the victims fought back and the men fled with almost $1 million in cash and jewellery.
Their escape was not an entire success, however, as the suspected getaway driver was later intercepted by the police.
The attack unfolded around 2 am yesterday at Lot 77 Alliance, Canal Number 2, which is the location of three houses occupied by members of the Sumdhat family.
The bandits broke into two of the houses. The house which they first entered is occupied by Monoogi Sumdhat, his wife, daughter and one of their sons, while the second house is occupied by another son and his family.
The police said in a press release that Sumdhat’s 31-year-old son, who lives with him, was sleeping in a hammock under a shed in the yard when he was confronted by two men, who were armed with handguns.
The men demanded that he hand over his valuables before they took him into his house and relieved him of a large sum of cash, the police added.
During the ordeal, the release explained, the suspects gun-butted the victims, who retaliated and engaged the bandits in a fight. As a result, the victims reportedly managed to disarm one of the gunmen after the magazine fell out of the other’s gun.
“The victims then quickly armed themselves with instruments and wounded the suspects, who fled in the waiting vehicle,” the release added.
Police said the victims pursued the bandits but were forced to retreat after they were reportedly fired upon.
However, quick action by the police led to the arrest of the suspected driver of the getaway car.
The car, a blue Toyota NZE, was intercepted during a roadblock at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.
A police source told Stabroek News that the driver of the car, which is suspected to
have been rented, was still being questioned by investigators up to yesterday afternoon as the hunt continued for his two accomplices, who are believed to have been seriously injured during the robbery.
A blood-stained jersey as well as traces of blood were found inside the car, the police said. “Two live 9mm rounds were found at the scene and an unlicensed 9 mm pistol allegedly taken from one of the two armed suspects during a struggle has been handed over to the police,” they added.
Sumdhat told Stabroek News that his son would usually sleep in the hammock inside the yard. “So the bai them [bandits] walk from in front hay (points to entrance of the premises), put the gun on he head and seh, ‘This is a robbery,’” he said.
He explained that the bandits carried his son into their house through the back door, which is normally not locked. He noted that the men knocked on his bedroom door and woke him.
According to Sumdhat, the bandits then placed him, his wife and their daughter to lay in the living room, where they demanded to know where they had their money.
He added that while he told the men he had nothing as he did not work, his son, who became fearful, told the bandits that the money was at the other house in the yard.
The bandits then tied up Sumdhat, his wife and daughter before they took his son to the other house for the money.
However, Sumdhat, who was left jobless following the closure of the Wales estate, managed to untie himself and he escaped from the house and alerted a villager who is a police officer to the robbery.
Meanwhile, another victim, Vidya (only name given), who lives in the other house that was invaded, told Stabroek News that her brother-in-law opened the door after he heard his brother shouting for her husband.
“When I get up I only managed to get to the room door, I didn’t reach to the house door, but he [her brother-in-law] did already open the door and they rushed into the room and they said, ‘Nobody don’t move, it’s a robbery!’ And he said… ‘Put on the light! You live here, put on the light! Pass all the money and jewellery’,” she recalled.
The visibly-shaken woman said she handed over a container containing the jewellery and a quantity of hundred dollar notes. “The bundle money that I gave him was in hundred dollar notes. He seh, ‘This is all?’ And he give the small brother-in-law a hit to he head with the gun and he pitch straight to the wardrobe and then he said, ‘Y’all pass the rest ah money,’” she added.
At this point, Vidya said her husband took out approximately $717,000 and handed over to the bandits. “Then is when my big brother-in-law jump on the one with the gun and they fighting started and when they started to fight, the one with the gun tell the other one ‘Go and call the rest!’ When he run out through the door, I bolt the door and they continue fighting. However, my brother-in-law get the gun from him and when he try to shoot him the gun snap,” she explained.
“…Before that, I run out through the back door and I call for my other brother-in-law in the back house. So when I call for him, he rush out with the cutlass. He was already coming with the cutlass because they [the bandits] went in his mother and father house first,” she further explained.
Vidya said by this time, Sumdhat had already alerted the police officer about the robbery. “Apparently when he [the policeman] was coming, they fired two shots and he went back, he didn’t come and the fighting escalated and my brother-in-law, he chop one ah them that was left inside but the other one that came outside he didn’t come in back,” she said.
She said the bandits fled the scene in the car that was parked in front their premises during the attack. Vidya said it is unclear how many other occupants were in the car since the road was dark.
After the bandits fled, she said her husband and brothers-in-law drove behind them. “They drove the bus behind them and they were tracking them. However, the bus got overheated by Vreed-en-Hoop junction, so they went by the station right there and they report and they [the police] held a roadblock at Leonora and there is where they intercepted the car,” she explained.
Commander of ‘D’ Division Rishi Das and a team of police officers visited the victims yesterday.