Bandits rob Betsy Ground businessman again
By Samuel Whyte with additional reporting by Melissa Johnson
Police are on the hunt for three bandits, two of whom are said to have carried out a daring daylight robbery around 07:30 hrs on popular Business Maurice Sookraj, called “Bayee”,58, of 23 Betsy ground East Canje, Berbice.
Sookraj and his family operate a general grocery store at the premises. The bandits escaped with an undisclosed sum of money, including all his sales for the day before and money which he had put aside to pay creditors.
His desktop computer, music system, cell phone, a diamond ring and his wedding band were among other things taken by the bandits.
Residents later said that they saw two men known as ‘Blacks’ and ‘Duck’. One of them is a known felon from the area, while the other was seen around recently, running through the back street, they said.
The description offered by the residents match that provided by the businessman. The men, along with a wanted man were seen patrolling the area on bicycles the day before, according to the residents.
The police, led by Assistant Superintendent Leroy Albert responded quickly and immediately went into action.
During their search, the police encountered a wanted man known as ‘The Colonel ‘ (who they suspected had links to the bandits) near his home about some 400 meters from the crime scene; he was called upon to stop but made a dash for the bushes and the creek.
The police then received what turned out to be a fake call of another robbery on the East Bank of Berbice, some ten miles. The diversion which forced some of the cops to leave the area, gave the bandits some leverage to escape.
The wanted man, who was recently sentenced to five years’ jail in his absence, also used the opportunity to return to the area. Not expecting the cops to return so quickly, the wanted man came face to face with the cops for the second time.
He again made a dash for the creek and bushy area with the cops hot on his heels. The police opened fire, but the man escaped for a second time.
Residents then joined the police in their hunt for the bandits and found a part of the computer in an abandoned house.
A sawn-off 12 gauge shotgun, 18 cartridges, two toque masks with eye holes, a Rambo knife, a crow bar, a computer monitor and a keyboard were found at an abandoned home at Betsy Ground in East Canje along with three pounds of what is suspected to be cannabis sativa.
The items are suspected to be those stolen from Maurice Sookraj.
The cops also found a quantity of clothing similar to those worn by the bandits. These were discovered in the surrounding bushes as the bandits changed their garments in an effort to avoid capture.
Based on the description given, the ranks moved in on the vacant house at Second Street, Betsy Ground just after 09:00 hours.
Upon their arrival, an occupant of the place ran. He reportedly scaled several fences and made his way to the Canje River when he managed to escape the police dragnet. After he disappeared, ranks searched the house and found the weapon and ammunition under a mattress and the other articles in the one bedroom dwelling place.
“I was made to understand one of the men was shot in his hand while he was trying to get away in the (Canje) Creek. One of the men is from my village and the other is from Nickerie, Suriname,” Sookraj later said.
The same house in which the loot was recovered was the location where two-time escapee from the Reliance Police Station, Chetram Singh, was caught on both occasions.
Speaking about his ordeal, the businessman said that he had just come down to the lower flat and was in the process of brushing his teeth when he suddenly saw a gun pointed at his head. The gunman instructed him to lie on the ground with his face to the floor and not to make any noise.
He said that he was then tied up with bicycle cable.
Sookraj said that there were two bandits, both of whom were masked, but he could still recognise their ethnicity. The men, he said, had one gun which they used interchangeable to guard him. He was instructed to hand over all his money and was stripped of his rings.
The men kept moving him from one place to the other, continuing their demands for jewelry and money. He said that they then struck him on his neck and left shoulder.
”That particular bandit keep asking for more money and hitting me with the hammer as he kept demanding more money.”
One of the bandits he said asked him for his bankbook and card. The ordeal lasted for about 15 minutes.
Sookraj said that as soon as he had the chance, he ran outside and started to holler for thief, thief. Residents started to gather as the men made their escape through the back.
This is the fourth time that Sookraj has been robbed. During one of those robberies he lost his firearm. He has been robbed three other times in less than four years.
Up to press time, the cops were still in the area trying to flush out the wanted men.
Meanwhile, a number of persons have been taken into custody as investigation continues.