Gun-toting bandits on Saturday night carried out a brazen attack on a Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo family robbing them of over $4 million dollars in cash, jewellery and other items, and police have since arrested one person.
The victims, Mohan Persaud, a large-scale fish vendor, and his wife Jennifer Persaud, were relaxing at their McWatt Street, Vergenoegen home with their children when three bandits – two males and a female who were all armed with handguns – pounced on them at around 7:30 pm on Saturday.
During the half hour ordeal, Stabroek News was told, the bandits terrorised the family and threatened to kill the youngest son. One gun-butted Mohan to his face while the two others physically assaulted his wife and daughter as they demanded cash and jewellery.
Police, in a statement to the media yesterday, said the driver of the vehicle that was used to transport the suspected bandits was later Saturday night intercepted on the “West Coast of Demerara and the driver, who was the lone occupant, was found in possession of an unlicensed pistol with six live rounds; he is assisting with the investigation.”
Police Commander of ‘D’ Division, Edmond Cooper yesterday told Stabroek News that the gun and ammunition found in the car matched one of the spent shells that was recovered in close proximity to the scene of the crime.
Over at the Persauds’ home yesterday, scores of family members, friend and neighbours gathered to offer support to the tramautised family.
Still devastated from the robbery, Mohan recounted the ordeal and explained that the bandits entered the yard asking, “this is where the fish man living that does deal with drugs?” Shocked at the question, he said, he responded in the negative. “I said ‘no buddy, I does buy and sell fish.’ I thought was police but then they said ‘oh well, is you we looking for’ and they pulled out their guns from their waist.”
Before being attacked by the bandits, Mohan said, he and his wife, along with their youngest son, were in their hammocks when he noticed a white Toyota Raum driving through their street. Mohan explained that he did not enquire about the car but not long after, he heard the gate open but could not see who entered the yard as his view was blocked.
“The Canter (truck) was parked in front of the gate there so I couldn’t have seen who come in, but from where I was sitting, I could have seen them walking in,” he said.
The businessman recounted that his daughter, who was by the stairs, saw the bandits whipping out guns tucked at their waists and ran upstairs. “Me daughter holler ‘thief’ and meh big son duck under the bed but before she could go under the bed too, the bandit scramble she and bring she back outside,” he said, adding that the two others took him, his wife and youngest son in a room in the lower flat.
“Them take we in this bottom room (pointing to the room) and tell we them come for the money. I tell them we nah get money and then them tell we fuh empty the barrels. I tell them we nah get nothing in here, is only old clothes…I empty two barrels,” the man said.
He added that the bandits became impatient and gun-butted him, resulting in a gash to his face. As blood flowed from the wound, Mohan recalled that his son, who is ten years old, screamed and the bandit turned his attention to him and “asked this is who? And I tell he ‘me son’ and he say, ‘Alright, he done’.”
Mohan said that he tried to guard his son but the bandit pushed him away.
The father recounted that the bandit asked what his religion is and “I say Hindu and he turn and say ‘Offer ah prayer for meh son’. I beg he don’t do anything but he put the gun to my son head and pull two times but it didn’t go off; it go click! Click!” he recounted, adding that his wife at that point announced, “Ayuh nah kill he, come I gon give ayuh the money.”
At this point, the female bandit escorted the wife to the upper flat of their home while he and his son stayed under guard.
Moments later, Mohan said, the female bandit returned with his string bag which contained over $2 million inside and handed it over to the bandit who was guarding them. The bandits also carted off another bag that contained over $1 million in cash.
Mohan recalled that while he remained downstairs, the bandit bound his hands and feet together before carrying out his own search in the barrels for valuables. He said that the bandit also pulled off a gold and silver band he was wearing and a ring. Mohan, however, managed to recover the ring after it fell and was left behind.
“The bandit then say ‘Alright, we gotta get the jewellery now’ and he left she with the gun pon me and meh son, and he went upstairs. The other guy who de follow my daughter upstairs, then come down back and tell the girl ‘you go up, I gon watch them’. When the girl left, the boy start empty out the other barrels in the room and steady, he ah peep outside fuh see if anybody coming,” he recounted.
The businessman said that with his feet hidden under the clothes, he managed to rub his foot together and slipped the duct-tape off. It was at this point that the bandit who was guarding them, left, and Mohan ran outside and started to shout ‘thief, thief’.
“Nobody could have hear though cause di neighbour was playing music loud…So I run to the cross street and see a white Raum put on the light and ah drive towards me. I think it hear me and was coming to help. Meh been ah go hold the door and say ‘ow buddy, help me; them man ah beat and rob meh family’ but then I look up the road and see the three ah them run out the yard and run up the road, and start shooting up… and the man mek one drive and drive towards them…” he recalled.
Mohan said that when the car sped up the road, it was then he realised that it was transporting the bandits and only managed to record the registration series of the licence plate, which he said was ‘PRR’.
He said that the bandits fired approximately four shots during their escape.
Mohan said following the ordeal, he called 911 twice but it went unanswered. After that, he called a cousin, who is a policeman, and the man summoned police to the scene.
He recounted that while they were being taken for medical attention at the West Demerara Regional Hospital, the white Toyota Raum was spotted and he informed the police. The car was intercepted in the vicinity of Vreed-en-Hoop and the driver came out with his hands in the air. During a search of the car, Mohan said, the ammunition was found. However, when the man exited the car, he threw the gun into a yard; it was later recovered by a policeman.
Mohan lamented that when they first visited the Leonora Cottage Hospital, there was no doctor on duty and they were told that they should visit the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
Apart from the cash stolen, electronic devices including tablets and cellular phones, as well as jewellery, were taken by the bandits.