Three men, described by police as “suspected bandits,” were killed in shoot-outs yesterday with lawmen along the Seawall Public Road, in Georgetown, where they had reportedly trailed a customer of a city bank.
Dextroy Cordis, 46, called “Dottie” of Lot 4 Grove Public Road, East Bank Demerara, Kwame Assanah, a former soldier, of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, and Errol Adams, 57, called ‘Dynamite,’ of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast and also Buxton, were fatally shot north of the GNS sports ground and their families are calling for a full investigation of the deaths.
The Guyana Police Force, in a statement on the shootings, suggested that Cordis and Assanah had been identified as “two suspicious looking characters” spotted in a car in the vicinity of ScotiaBank around 10.30 yesterday morning.
As a result of information received by “operatives,” the police said they were trailing the men in an unmarked vehicle and determined that they were following a bank customer, who eventually parked along the Seawall Public Road at Kingston.
“At this time the two suspicious looking characters in the motorcar, drove up to the customer’s vehicle and exited, one brandishing a small (fire) arm at the customer,” the statement said.
“At the same time the police anti-crime patrol, which by now was in close proximity called out to the suspicious looking characters but the one who was armed discharged several rounds at the police who returned fire,” it added.
As a result, Cordis and Assanah were fatally shot.
Cordis was found approximately a foot away from the car, while Assanah was found leaning on the driver side of the vehicle.
The statement went on to say that seconds after the exchange of fire, two men were spotted on a CG motorbike near the dead men’s vehicle and one of them opened fired on the police, who again returned fire.
As a result, police say Adams was fatally shot, while his accomplice sped away on the bike.
Adams’ body was found on the parapet of the road some distance away from the bodies of Cordis and Assanah.
Following the shootouts, police say they recovered a 9mm pistol along with a magazine containing seven live rounds and four spent shells next to the body of Cordis.
A further search conducted on the Toyota IST car, PTT 9034, which was used by Cordis and driven by Assanah, uncovered a number of items. “The motorcar which was driven by the now deceased Assanah was searched and the following items were found therein a supernumerary precept, one driver’s licence, ten passports belonging to himself and family members, a key used by trunkers [robbers who steal from vehicles], two handcuff keys, a bandana and clothing,” police added.
It was also noted that the unmarked vehicle that was used by the ranks of the anti-crime patrol was damaged by the gunfire from the suspects. The roof and windshield bore bullet holes.
As news of the shooting spread, curious persons rushed to the seawall to get a glimpse of what was happening.
When Stabroek News arrived, investigators had already cordoned off the area and were processing the crime scene. The bodies remained on the roadway for almost two hours as the crime scene was processed.
It was during this time that some of Cordis’ relatives showed up. As the bodies were being transported from the scene, a sister broke down. “They killed my brother,” she wailed.
‘We want to see the evidence’
At the respective homes of the deceased last night, members of their families were still trying to process their loss. In each case, the family members expressed shock at the deaths of their loved ones and called for justice as they believed that the men were murdered.
At Cordis’ home at Grove, members of his family were trying to reconcile the information about the day’s events.
“Somebody called his sister to go and identify him… that is how we know he was involved. We don’t know what happened but they are saying he robbed somebody,” a relative related.
His common-law wife Yulanda King explained that Cordis left home around 8.30 yesterday morning but did not indicate where he was going. She said that she got confirmation of his death from a sister who had identified him.
King stated that Cordis worked in the interior and only returned home recently. “We felt that he was murdered by the police and we want justice. Nobody got robbed and they said they were suspects but they killed him,” his sister Ann Aaron said.
She went on to question why police didn’t try to apprehend her brother and the others since they were suspects. “Why you have to shoot to kill them? We want to see the evidence that they were doing what the police said,” she added.
Asked if Cordis had ever had any brushes with the law, King said he currently has a court matter pending from 2016. Cordis was accused of stealing US$5000 and a quantity of documents from Balchandra Hardowar. Police had said he was previously granted bail on a “trunking” charge.
She also claimed that police would frequently arrest Cordis and take him on identification parades.
“Sometimes three to four times police would come here looking for him but they never hold him for anything. Other times, as soon as they release him, they come back and pick him up. We don’t know what is the deal with that,” the wife noted.
Cordis, who also operated a small business, is also survived by his six children.
‘Makes no sense’
Assanah’s family members told this publication that the news of his death came as a shock to them and that the information being related does not make any sense.
“What they are telling us makes no sense. He used to drive taxi but he doesn’t work at a base or on the road because he’s afraid of all the robberies occurring when you pick up strange people. He operates a special hire, so if someone who knows him is looking for a taxi they would call him,” one of Assanah’s relatives said.
The police said Assanah is known to them as he was previously arrested in connection with several offences. However, the man’s family demanded that the police show them “where and when he was arrested before” and added that they are vehemently denying any such claims.
“I never knew Shem [Assanah] like that. It makes no sense to me, it just makes absolutely no sense,” the relative added, while stating that Assanah was married and fathered two children.
Meanwhile, Adams’ older brother, who did not want to be named, said he only learnt of what had happened through the television. He noted that his sister had gone to the Lyken Funeral Home to identify the body.
“He left here not too long ago, like last week, to go to Essequibo, where he lives with his wife and some children and I understand that this morning he was coming back from there. He does come and stay sometimes because he does get work up there to clean up trees with the region and he does work deh and then he come back and go back and work,” the man related.
Like the relatives of the other deceased men, he and other family members questioned the circumstances surrounding the death of Adams. They explained that the information that has been released by the police to them and what has been circulating in the media does not match up and as a result they want further investigations to be done.
Following a recent spate of robberies committed on customers of local banks, police said that they have improved surveillance and engaged in collaborations with key stakeholders to boost security within the environs of local banks. It had also been stated that sting operations would be set up to nab those who had been robbing customers after they left banks. (David Papannah and Dhanash Ramroop)