GEORGETOWN – The communities of Turkeyen and Pattensen, Greater Georgetown, were startled by rapid gunfire around 3:15 a.m. yesterday. The gunshots lasted almost 40 minutes. When the shooting subsided, five known criminals were dead.
Their attempts to access a safe in a house in a heavily secured and gated community, was foiled by ranks of the Guyana Police Force.
Dead are 38-year-old Timothy St Hill of Diamond Housing Scheme; Levy Braithwaite, 31, of North Ruimveldt; Jermaine Doobay; Ian Forde and 40 year old Andrew Daly of Westminster, West Bank Demerara.
The quintet’s attempt was foiled after the caretaker for the property called police who were quickly on the scene.
The heavy fortification of the property was no deterrent to the criminals, since they broke padlocks that secured the main gate to the community that was some 150 feet from their primary target – a house that stood behind a 10-ft fence and secured by solid steel gates.
The bandits then used crowbars to unhinge the gates from the tracks that allowed for it to move from side to side, and this caused the gate to fall to the ground with a loud crashing sound, causing the caretaker to become aware of their presence.
To his surprise, there were three men entering the yard, two with long guns in hand. The caretaker who was with his wife and three young children at the time, got his family together and retreated to a room in the house, where he immediately called 911.
While the police were on their way, the men were breaking down the front door of one of the two houses that is on the property – Lots eight and nine Turkeyen.
Police said that the target was a safe in that house.
Before the bandits could access the safe which is said to be on the second storey of the house they were in, the police had surrounded the property.
Police say that their first encounter was with two bandits who had guns in hand, in the yard. There was an exchange of gunfire, during which the two gunmen were killed.
A third bandit rushed out of the home and was caught in the crossfire.
Moments later, a white Toyota motor car drove up, and two occupants exited.
Police said that two men came out and opened fire on the patrols, forcing them to take cover. During the exchange, the two were killed.
While securing the crime scene, investigators unearthed three guns, a quantity of ammunition and house-breaking implements.
One AK47 and two matching magazines were found close the bodies of the bandits who had fired on the police from the car.
Two shotguns were found next to the bodies of the bandits that the police said had fired on them when they first arrived on the scene. Close by were the house-breaking implements including two crowbars and a large nipper.
There were blood stains evident on the roadway and pavement leading to the property, a grim reminder of the events that occurred.
Crime chief, assistant commissioner Paul Williams, was among those on the scene.
He said that five men were confronted by police, and were engaged in a shootout.
The house in question, which seemed to have been recently built, was covered with small holes from the bullets.
Residents in the community said they heard the gunfire beginning in the wee hours of the morning, and continuing for some 10 minutes, after which there was a deafening silence for a few minutes, then there was a return of heavy gunfire.
One resident who claims to know what high powered gunfire sounds like, since he had lived through the crime wave said, “the sound like AK dem man de firing”.
He was unable to confirm who was shooting, because the fence around the house was over ten feet high.
The man said that the entire episode lasted for about 40 minutes.
Another resident claimed being awoken by loud sounds that she could not identify, but was later told by a friend that it was gunshots. “I hear sounds like brick falling on the house top, but I did not know what it was.”
The kids shook their head in agreement with their mother as she explained what she recollected of the early morning scene that struck fear in the household and neighbourhood.
One woman, who operates a shop in the area, remembered seeing the bandit who was identified as Timothy St Hill, on Saturday. He had come to buy something from her, but she said she got an eerie feeling about the man, since he was more focused on his surroundings, instead of what he wanted to buy.
The woman could remember selling him first, since she wanted to get rid of him. From the bandit’s vantage point at the shop, he had a clear view of the premises that he would eventually attempt to break into.
According to police ranks, the men were dangerous with numerous brushes with the law.
A little digging into the history of these individuals, quickly unearthed facts that suggested that they were career criminals, at least two were before the courts for armed robbery and possession of ammunitions.
Commissioner of police (ag), David Ramnarine, quickly held a press conference yesterday at Eve Leary where he commended the police for their quick action. He noted their bravery, in the clear and present danger.