Burning of Linden School… Suspected arsonist ‘Candy Man’ tells his side of story
Shan Thomas called “Candy Man”, 33, of 84 First Alley, Wismar, who just a few weeks ago was seen as a progressive and helpful businessman making a significant contribution to Linden, is now a broken man and in desperate need of help and assistance. And his sudden misfortune is none of his fault, he says.
Thomas was the man accused of setting fire to the One Mile Primary that was razed during the recent Linden unrest in the mining town. He was arrested, thrown in the lockups for two days, treated like a criminal and moved from one station to the next. During this time, his house and business place were destroyed and all his belongings and things to conduct his business lost, for something, he says, that he knows nothing about.
During the melee he lost his candy, pop corn and parch nut machines, generator, freezer, glass case, TV, DVD players and over 1000 DVDs. He also lost his gas stove, over 500 packs of chips, his bed and other household items, including money. “What was not taken was burnt or simply broken up.”
Wondering aloud, the distressed man asked, “Why would I want to do something like that? Why would I set the school on fire? I have kids. I am a businessman. I am well known. I have a distinct personality… I would be easily recognized. I am not that type of person. I am a religious man. I am from the Bahai faith.”
He continued, “They said two ‘coolie’ man and a black man burn the school. I am neither. I am mixed. I have long hair. I ride around the village selling candies and my other produces. I cannot see the connection.”
Thomas who hails from Berbice is a father of four with his oldest at 15 and youngest, eight. He has been living in Linden for the past 4-5 years and got the name ‘Candy Man” from the trade that he is involved- a trade he has been involved in since he lived in Berbice.
In fact, he has been dealing with candies for about 20 years, since he was at school in the ancient county.
He is wondering how his name got caught up in the entire scenario as he is well known and is no politician. He is now fearful for his life and is concerned for the safety of his family. His children, he says, are in hiding.
He is wondering how they will go to school since he lost everything he owns, including their books and belongings. “I don’t have anything now; everything that I owned has been destroyed. I don’t have any problem with anybody. I love Linden and the Lindeners. I don’t know why I was targeted. I move to Linden because I love the place. In fact I use to contribute tremendously to the upliftment of the area.”
He and his son are into boxing… his son represents the area.
He wants to go back to Linden and especially to have a talk with Regional Chairman, Sharma Solomon and all the relevant authorities including the President, Opposition Leader or anybody who would give an ear. He is appealing to Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand to assist since he needs transfers and supplies for his children.
He claimed that he had made contact with some government officials, including the former Region Five Chairman, but to no avail.
Giving an account of what transpired, Thomas said that on the night of the fire he was at home alone sleeping. His wife and kids had gone for a holiday. He was awoken around 03:50hrs on Sunday morning by noise coming from outside of his house. He peeped out and saw a number of persons traversing the streets. He came out on the road and went to Chester Boat Landing and then headed up the road to a spot where people started to assemble. There he heard that One Mile Primary was being burnt and residents had visited his home, believing he was involved.
He was then accosted by a crowd of about 50-60 persons and taken to the station where he was locked up. He was moved from one station to the next.
Describing the lockup as dungeons, he said that nobody came to identify him as the alleged arsonist.
During the time he was incarcerated and his house was being destroyed, his wife tried desperately to get assistance from the police, but to no avail. At one time, she was told there were no vehicles. He was released on Tuesday and was threatened. The police and others advised him to leave the area for now. He did not go back to the house. During the time his wife was also threatened and had to seek shelter in the Amerindian hostel.
He claimed that at the time of the fire, he was at home, sleeping.