Miner shot dead in hammock
Guyana’s interior is fast becoming the murder capital of the country, with yet another brutal murder engaging the attention of the police.
Twenty-six-year-old Neville Melville is the latest victim, having been shot in the head while he was asleep in a hammock in his mining camp near Mahdia early on Monday.
It is believed that his death is linked to an argument he had with another man at the mining camp over the use of an engine.
The police in a press release said that they are investigating the murder of the victim who hails from Arakaka, North West District, which occurred at White Water Backdam, Konawaruk.
The police said that their investigations have so far revealed that Melville had an argument earlier with a co-worker over the operation of a pump.
Later, the sound of a gunshot was heard coming from Melville’s tent in the camp and the suspect was seen leaving. Checks revealed that the victim had been shot to his head.
Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Melville’s foster mother, Joy Ming-Hutson, said that she received a telephone call from the dead man’s reputed wife at around 21:00 hours on Monday, informing her that Melville was dead.
She said that she enquired from the woman what had happened and was told that Melville was shot by a man with whom he had a dispute over an engine.
Natasha Sukraj, Melville’s reputed wife, in a telephone interview told Kaieteur News that on Saturday the suspect who shares a camp with them was insisting that he and Melville continue working even after they had finished a ‘wash down’.
However, Melville objected and informed that he will restart the engine when the boss arrived.
On Sunday, Melville gave the suspect a pennyweight of gold since he was going to the ‘landing’ to make some purchases.
According to Sukraj, when Melville retired to his bed and she with her baby, the suspect had not returned.
She said that at about 03:00 hours she was aroused by a loud noise.
“I go waking up Neville and I see this man (suspect) running away with a haversack on his back. I tried waking Neville up but he wasn’t budging. Then I put my hand under him and felt the blood and started to scream,” Sukraj said.
She explained that she ran down a hill to the nearby camp of Melville’s uncle and told him that he had been shot.
“When Uncle John see he (Melville), he say, ‘Me nephew thin off’. He went looking for the boy but by that time he had already gone far. People say they saw him heading towards the landing,” Sukraj told this newspaper.
She said that she had no idea that the suspect was armed with a gun and she could not say where he might have got it from.
The latest murder further underscores the difficulty faced by the law enforcement agencies to properly police the interior division.
PNCR Member of Parliament, Debra Backer had told the National Assembly during the current budget debate that given the geographical size that the division is mandated to cover, the administration should seriously consider splitting the division into two parts to give it more administrative leverage.
The E&F Division covers an area of 152,000 square kilometers, almost half the total size of Guyana and despite the relatively small population, is considered one of the most important areas in the fight against criminal activity.
“What this shows is a continued non understanding of the scale and scope of the hinterland security problem. More and more people have been killed and there is more violence in our interior,” Backer said.
Melville’s uncle, Lennox, told this newspaper that he received a telephone call on Monday night from the dead man’s aunt in England.
“She said she got a message that he was shot.”
He informed Kaieteur News that Melville had taken his girlfriend to the interior and she reportedly became friendly with the suspect.
They went drinking on Sunday night and a talking about the girl came up, leading to a heated argument. I hear the man just shot him at the back of his head,” the uncle stated.
He said that news of Melville’s death has shocked the entire family, since, according to him, the young man did not deserve such a death.
He said that Melville, who would have celebrated his birthday yesterday, was the eldest of a group of orphaned children who used to beg on the streets.
“He had to come out of school and beg to support his younger brother and sisters. Sometimes he would end up sleeping on the road until Joy took him in. Last year he came to town and really helped out his siblings. He was even supposed to buy a house,” the uncle said.
So far the police have not yet arrested the suspect and this newspaper understands that Melville’s reputed wife has been released after being questioned by investigators.
Melville’s body was brought to the city yesterday and is presently lying at the Lyken Funeral Parlour awaiting a post mortem.