While police await legal advice on whether to charge hotel owner Erwin Bacchus, following his fatal shooting of a Subryanville man, a worker who witnessed the encounter said that he acted in self defence.
According to Terrence Newsum, a handyman at the Tourist Villa Hotel, where the shooting occurred, the now deceased Jason De Florimonte had attacked him with a knife and later also tried to attack Bacchus, who shot him.
Bacchus, 45, of Lot 260 B Fifth Avenue Subryanville, Georgetown was initially taken into police custody but a police source told Stabroek News yesterday that he has since been placed in the care of the Georgetown Public Hospital’s psychiatric ward, where he is under police guard, after he was observed acting strangely.
The source added that the police have wrapped up their investigation and the case file has been sent for legal advice.
De Florimonte, 30, of Lot 96 Fifth Avenue, Subryanville, Georgetown was shot four times in his chest during a confrontation at the hotel, which is a neighbouring property.
The shooting occurred around 1.45 am on Saturday after De Florimonte had pursued Newsum, 29, who said he tried to stop the man from beating his girlfriend.
Newsum said he was standing in front of the hotel when he heard De Florimonte yelling at his girlfriend, Christine Rambarran, and then he saw him continuously beating her. “So, I seh man, dah is none of my business. So I turn my back and then I hear she hollering, he get she on the ground and he beating she. So I seh man, I get sisters and I can’t encourage that fuh happen. So I step forward and I go to he, ’cause I know the individual too,” Newsum explained.
He said he approached De Florimonte and told him he shouldn’t be beating on the young woman and reminded him that he had sisters too. He said De Florimonte then told him, “Oh, you? I gun turn pun you now.”
Newsum said Jason then turned his attention to him and pulled a cover from a nearby garbage bin and began hitting him in his head. “He lashing me in meh head and after he realised it drop, he run inside [his house] fuh something else ’cause he realise he can’t handle me hand to hand, so he run inside for he knife,” Newsum said.
However, on Monday, Rambarran told this newspaper that Jason was not armed during the incident.
“…It would take a time for Jason to run in and come out back and head straight over to the hotel,” she had said, while noting, “of course I have a rolling pin and I have knives. But I don’t have a white handle knife and I don’t have a Rambo knife in my house. Because the knife that the woman was flashing was a big knife and that she said Jason came running in the hotel with. I don’t have any big knives in my house except the chopper.”
Newsum, on the other hand, said since he was not armed, he picked up the garbage bin cover to defend himself. “So, he run inside for he knife. I didn’t had anything. So I had the drum cover that he leave. I had it in my hand. So he run and he come and stand up fuh see if he gun really react like that which in, he react with the knife fuh bore me and I tek the drum cover fuh bar. And I bar and he stab, stab and I bar. I just drop the cover and I run fuh inside the hotel,” Newsum related.
He said although he tried to escape by running in the hotel, De Florimonte pursued him. “And as I run in the hotel now, he run behind me, firing stabs and everybody in the hotel could have seen who was in the hotel, the bar and staff,” he said.
Newsum added that he ran up the stairs but Jason held on to his foot. “When I was about to go up the step, I kinda stumble and I brace up back myself and I push he off with my foot and I continue going up the step. And I say, ‘You know, what if we reach on the roof garden? This man is going to kill me.’ So I stand up on the step, which in I had an upper hand over he and I push he away. I just literally use my hand and I push he. He stumble and he run down back the stairs, run to Mr Bacchus,” Newsum further explained. “I was running. I didn’t even looking back because I know what he was doing all the time behind me,” he added.
According to Newsum, it was at this point that Jason rushed towards Bacchus, who had just exited the washroom.
“Mr Bacchus was in the washroom. He was coming out from the washroom. And same time he heard the commotion. So he know the fella. So he call he by he name—‘Jason, why you doing that?’ And then he run to Mr Bacchus and said, ‘You cannot stop me from getting to him [Newsum] and he brace Mr Bacchus to the wall. And then Mr Bacchus pull out he gun and fire a warning shot,” Newsum related.
He said despite the warning shot, De Florimonte still proceeded to attempt to stab Bacchus. “He step back a few after the first shot fire. But he proceed back again with the knife to bore Mr Bacchus. Dah is when Mr Bacchus loose the rest in he belly and he walk outside, drop the knife in the hotel on the ground and he gone brace up on the neighbour car, fall down right behind the car. Blood was on the car, on the ground and he fall down right there,” he added, while noting that he witnessed the entire episode from the stairs.
Newsum recalled seeing Rambarran leaning over De Florimonte while he was lying on the ground and she was wailing. “Now the same girl [Rambarran] that he was beating, go over he and start hollering, ‘Somebody call the ambulance!’” Newsum said.
He added that he also asked persons who were around at the time to call the ambulance although guests of the hotel who witnessed De Florimonte’s actions told him, “Hey, he is a predator, you shouldn’t help him.”
Newsum maintained that De Florimonte was shot in the hotel and also not in his back as is being claimed. “He was never shot in the back… Mr Bacchus didn’t even want shoot the individual, but after he realised that he [De Florimonte] wasn’t stopping, he was scared. He [Bacchus] was defending himself,” Newsum said.
Newsum also said that he knew Bacchus was scared since De Florimonte repeatedly attempted to attack him with the knife, resulting in him shooting him more than once.
“When he [De Florimonte] heard the first shot, he step back and brace up to the wall. So when he proceed back with the knife, Mr Bacchus was scared and after he put the two [bullets] in him, he wasn’t going down also, so he put two more in him,” Newsum said.
‘He coulda kill me’
The handyman, who said he knew De Florimonte, noted that he did not expect the incident to escalate as far as it did and it was never his intention to get Bacchus involved.
Newsum said since the incident he is being looked at differently and is even being blamed for what transpired. “Well, despite what is going on right now, everybody is in the frustration. You know people might be vex with me. They say I am the cause of everything and people very judgmental… they saying how I make Mr Bacchus shoot the man. I defend myself and I run. I didn’t do him anything and the man attack Mr Bacchus. Mr Bacchus defend his self,” Newsum added.
He said he also feels threatened and will not be returning to work in a hurry. “…I sat down to myself and I study that I shouldn’t go around there. Because it’s my daily living—I work honestly—[but] now with all the threats and everything, it’s really dangerous for me,” Newsum said, while noting, “I need some time for myself and you know the whole frustration is kinda scary because he coulda kill me.”