Guard denies Broomes claims after parking lot clash

Josh Ramroop, one of the two guards who were arrested after claims that they had verbally abused and threatened Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona Broomes in the parking lot of the Amazonia Mall, at Providence, East Bank Demerara, yesterday said her version of events were far from what actually transpired. 

The police are currently investigating the altercation, which occurred around 8.30 pm on Sunday when the minister visited the Amazonia Mall to purchase food from the New Thriving Chinese Restaurant, which is housed on the top floor of the building.

A statement issued by the police on Monday said a “thorough investigation” was launched following allegations of abuse and threats against a minister and her driver. It did not name Broomes. “Initial enquiries reveal that both parties seemed to have been very aggressive,” the statement said, before adding that the two security guards were arrested and later released on their own recognizance.

In the wake of the incident, the KGM Security Firm, to which Ramroop and the other guard are attached, is standing behind its two employees.

A supervisor attached to the security firm, which has for the past year been providing security services at the mall, told this newspaper yesterday that the footage of the events of Sunday evening, which has since been made public, speaks for itself and that the firm does not wish to make any further comments since the matter is currently under investigation.

He noted, however, that the firm stands fully behind the two men.

Meanwhile, Ramroop, who has been working at that location for the past two years, told Stabroek News yesterday that neither he nor his colleague pulled a gun on Broomes as she had been reported as saying by other publications.

“We were at the parking lot at around 8.30 pm when a dark vehicle came and pulled up, intending to go to New Thriving parking area. But where they were going was out of bounds. We don’t let anyone park behind there when it’s dark because there is no real surveillance down there and it’s easier for persons to park up in front,” he explained.

“So, a gentleman came out of the vehicle, he started to move some of the barricades. One of the security approached to let them know that ‘hey, hey you can’t go back there’ and the gentleman started to buse and cuss them out. He was being really arrogant and aggressive,” Ramroop added.

According to the man, his colleague and the driver of the vehicle had an exchange of words but was interrupted by a woman, believed to be Broomes, who exited the back of the vehicle and “joined in.” 

“She joins in… telling the driver to proceed ahead. She grabs one of the signs and throws it on the ground and he tries to pick it up. Neither one of them [the driver and the women] tried to identify who they were, nothing. So, the driver went back in the vehicle trying to proceed and that’s where I was, standing in front of the vehicle and I wouldn’t let him and he tried to bully me by driving towards me, twice, like he was trying to run me over,” Ramroop added. 

And while the minister would have claimed that the men used threatening language to her, Ramroop charged that things escalated to the point where the driver of the vehicle pulled out a 9 mm handgun and threatened to shoot them.

“So, the driver got frustrated, comes out the vehicle and says something to the effect of, ‘Like I gotta shoot you!’ And he pulls out his 9 mm handgun and the other security reacted. He never pointed his gun at the driver or at the minister, who had up to that time not identified herself. Everyone was just yelling and shouting,” he related. According to Ramroop, it was after that point that he ran off to collect a cell phone to call their supervisor.

“We let the driver continue and he parked at the New Thriving restaurant, and after a few more words they went upstairs. KGM Chief Security Supervisor came on scene and the police came on scene a little after and they said the minister claims that we had verbally abused her and used threatening language,” he shared.

Ramroop said both he and his colleague were taken to the Providence Police Station just around 9 pm on Sunday and remained there until after midday on Monday. He noted that during the time spent at the station, the police reviewed the footage, took their statements and had them undergo breathalyser tests. It is not clear whether the minister’s driver was subject to similar treatment.

“It’s a totally different story that she put online about us approaching her vehicle and we were aggressive to her; the whole thing was a lie,” he added.

Ramroop’s account was in line with surveillance footage which was retrieved from CCTV system around the parking lot.

The footage seen by this newspaper showed the minister’s vehicle turning into the parking lot and stopping just a few feet away from the entrance to the Massy Supermarket. The driver of the vehicle, exited, and removed what appeared to be a no parking sign before venturing back into the vehicle. This caught the attention of the two guards, who were seen standing a short distance away.

One of the guards, who was armed with what appeared to be a high-powered rifle, ventured over to the vehicle and proceeded to return the sign to the space it had been moved from. As a result, the driver of the vehicle exited and had an exchange with the guard. Not long after, a woman, believed to be the Junior Minister, exited the back of the vehicle and proceeded to push two of the signs to the ground before engaging in a confrontation with a guard, who stood in front of the vehicle while the driver attempted to proceed as the signs had been removed.

Neither of the clips showed whether either of the two guards pointed a gun at the minister or her driver. 

Meanwhile, Broomes, when contacted on Monday evening, said she did not wish to comment on the events that took place. She, however, added that she was disappointed that the police would go ahead and issue a press statement, particularly since they had not yet taken a written statement from her.

Last night, Minister of Public Health , Volda Lawrence met Ramroop and posted a statement on her Facebook page which said: “Tonight I met young Josh (Ramroop) a security guard at New Thriving Restaurant Providence, who told me a story about what happened to him on Sunday last. According to him he was wrongfully arrested and detained for 16 hours. From the bottom of my heart I apologised to him and said I was sorry. Humility and wisdom are character traits we must always ask of our Creator.”