– shot, ambushed, tracked down by gunmen, and saw colleagues die
He’s seen two of his colleagues gunned down….he drove a police van through a hail of bullets to save another wounded rank.
He still has a few warheads in his body from skirmishes in Buxton, and survived numerous ambushes and execution attempts, including one a few days before his birthday.
He’s one of the dedicated officers who were at the forefront of the brutal 2002- 2008 crime wave in which hundreds, including policemen, civilians and gunmen were slaughtered.
That six-year ‘crime wave’ had started when five notorious inmates broke out of the Georgetown prison, after murdering a warden and shooting a female colleague, leaving her disabled for life.
With a group of dangerous criminals presently on the loose after burning down the camp street prison, there is concern that another crime wave may be in the making, if they are not quickly apprehended.
“I was among the first policemen to drive into Buxton (where many of the gunmen were encamped)” the officer recollects. “I saw some of the first fires that were lit on the line-top.”
One of the most dangerous tasks involved venturing almost daily into Buxton, even at nightfall. This led to them having several battles with the gunmen.
“I remember one night when they had shot off a man’s head at Annandale. This was around the same time they had killed a girl at Annandale.
That same night, I told a colleague ’I feel like wearing two bulletproof vests’, but I only got one. We went to Sand Reef, Annandale.
“We were told that the killers were in an area near the seawall. When we reached by Sideline Dam, Buxton, we saw a man with a hood bracing a post and chatting on a phone, we didn’t take it for nothing.” Unknown to them, the man with the hood was informing other gunmen about the six-man patrol’s approach.
“As soon as we turned by a shop that a rasta-man had, gunshots rang out. Everybody bailed out of the vehicle. “
The veteran cop said that he managed to remain calm and confront the gunmen.
“I was the only one who returned fire to keep these men off until we regrouped. The vehicle we were using never used to start right away; you had to fix battery and all sorts of things. I got to that vehicle and turned the key and it started immediately.” Everybody jumped in and we retreated, but all of us got hit by bullets that night.
The policeman still bears at a warhead or two in the back and lower body from that encounter.
“But afterwards, we drove to Vigilance Police Station and returned to Buxton to look for the gunmen. That was how they made us. They strengthened our minds. Because remember, you want to go home, and if it (the fight) isn’t finished you can’t go home.
“Before the 2012 jailbreak, we used to work eight hours (a day) and after the jailbreak, they put us on 12-hour shifts, and told us if we get these men we would go back to eight hours. But from then to now, we still working 12 hour shifts.”
He recalled another terrifying battle a few days before his birthday.
“We had killed one of the gunmen. I was the driver that night, and my ranks left the vehicle and began traversing on foot, ahead of me. I was driving slowly, and when I look to the left, saw about five gunmen on foot at the left coming out of the streets, and another five on the other side. These men were coming around me, after realising the men gone ahead and left me.
On seeing this, I started to reverse, from Company Road, Buxton, to Stratsphey School road. Bullets were flying around me, but I had dropped my seat and kept low.”
When he reached Vigilance Police Station, he learned that the ranks who were on the patrol had falsely reported that the gunmen had killed him.
“They reported that I was ‘gone,’ so when I reached the compound, they grabbed me and they were in tears.”
LURED INTO AMBUSH
Then there was the time that the gunmen attempted to lure the police into an ambush, by sending out phone calls about a body being found.
“We got a message from somebody who said ‘Y’all come down, they got a body in Buxton Side Line Dam. We went, and saw nothing, and turned back. We didn’t know who was calling; then we got another message from Police Headquarters, and the rank said, ‘Y’all reach right to the body and turn back, y’all frighten.’ We went again and again and didn’t find the ‘body’, but when we reach the station they say we go the wrong place, we got to go down School Road, over the line…”
“Well, that is an area I know like the palm of my hand. Before the uprising, we used to be in the backdams looking for ganja fields, and we used to drive there in the night.
So I told the sergeant, “where we going is a dead end, everybody gun dead, we gun be in the middle and everybody gun dead. The sergeant tell them, ‘Y’all ‘listen to this man.”
“I say, I ain’t driving, give me a big gun, I gun be at the back, because I dun know is an ambush. So another sergeant say, ‘Let we take Brusche Dam. While going down Brushe Dam, just before the cane fields, a shot rang out. That shot pass through the vehicle, and pass through the sergeant thighs. Everybody jump out the vehicle, and I hear him say, “I get knock,” and I say Serious?’ and he say: ‘Yes.’ When I look, I see blood pouring out through the sergeant’s uniform pants.”
The quick-thinking veteran then asked his colleagues to give him cover.
“I picked up my gun, and say ‘Y’all shoot, don’t stop,’ I will turn the vehicle around.” This entailed turning the police van around on a narrow dam.
“I turned on the narrow dam in less than a minute, and tell he jump in and I rushed him down to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
The gunmen were shooting all the time, and from the time they travelled to the hospital and returned to the scene, the ‘war’ was still going on in Buxton.”
SAW HIS COLLEAGUES DIE
The veteran’s brave action saved his wounded colleague, but many others were not that lucky.
He recalled that a young rank who had repeatedly pleaded to go on patrol was slain in an ambush in which gunmen burnt a police vehicle near Coldingen.
Another time, he was with a patrol when they spotted two men at a culvert. The ranks in the leading vehicle had just turned to go the other way, when gunmen armed with a high-powered weapon blasted a hole in one of the doors.
The bullet struck one of the policemen in the side.
“The vehicle stopped and he said he get shoot.” The ranks returned fire and managed to retreat with the wounded rank, who died before they could reach a hospital.
Then there was another time when we had a confrontation with the ‘Fine-man’ gang. One of them, who was hiding in a hole, tried to throw a grenade at us, but at the same time we shoot, and he go down back in the hole with the grenade and it go off and killed him.
But a young policeman get shot in the leg, and he was bleeding a lot. When we reached to Georgetown, his eyes were rolling, the whites turn up, and I knew he wouldn’t make it.”
TRACKED BY GUNMEN
By then, the veteran was known to the gunmen, and even out of uniform and while off duty he wasn’t safe.
By then, many ranks were no longer wearing their uniforms and other had even turned in their badges. Like his colleagues, the veteran had grown a beard. But despite this the gunmen still found him.
“I visited girl at A Field, Sophia, just after dusk one day. We were standing near a bus ‘gaffing’, and I see a car pass and the occupants took a good look at me and then pass back, and her mother say why y’all don’t go somewhere else and gaff.
We entered the bus. You know, people think tinting your vehicle windows is a good thing, but if that bus was tinted all two of us would have been dead.
“I wind up the windows. I had my gun in my waist and about to close my door, and she say, ‘is who making theyself a fool?’”
“I looked and saw some fellows with shirts wrap around their faces coming out of her street, ducking and coming. The men go up to the vehicle, and I heard a gunshot hit the side window, but these men was ‘green’ men, because seasoned men would have shot from the front of the vehicle.
“I jump out and run, and I hear one who running behind me say ‘alright, we guh kill she sk—t.’ So I turn round, and I pelt the first corn (shot), and I see he (the gunman) fall, and he got up and run. The pregnant girl who was with me jump out the bus and jump in a trench with she big belly.”
Another time two of the gunmen (who were later slain) met me in Golden Grove. I was talking with a female, and they come up watching me and watching she, and they ask, who is me, and she say ‘this is a friend who does work bush, and I want he to get some gold to make some earrings, and they say ‘alright,’ and left.”
“By then, word was coming back to me that: ‘these men out to get you, your name deh on the list. They transferred me from Vigilance to Mahaicony for two years to ease the pressure, but the men came till to Mahaicony looking for me.”
“My family tell them ‘ this man doan deh here, he left long.’ And I got a call from my family saying ‘these men looking for you, don’t ever come back.”
But why didn’t he quit?
“They couldn’t break my mind. When you at home, you wondering what happening to your colleagues at work, so you just had to come out and be in the fight (with them).
Then again, backing out would cause weakness, I was just there and willing, because, to be honest, these gunmen made us hard.
Up to today my colleagues ask me how it felt being the driver of the first vehicle going into Buxton. I tell them it is mind over matter, and I have a praying mother; my church prays for me a lot. We do what we have to go, and ask God for help. He never let me down.”
CAUTIONS COLLEAGUES ABOUT NEW ESCAPEES
But even now, if there is anyone coming up behind me unexpectedly, my hand automatically goes to my waist. I had a lot of threats, sometimes stright to my face. One time, a man drove up to me and say, ‘‘you think I forget you? But I didn’t have time with him, because one of my hands was on the steering wheel and another on my gun, with one up (in breech).”
Is there danger of another crime wave?
There might be, and he sincerely hopes not, he says.
“I know that there are many out there that never got caught and may be waiting to be recruited.
If these men (the dangerous escapees) mean bad, I could only urge my colleagues they (the colleagues) got to go hard, they got to make up their minds…but I know they got men that willing to go hard.
“If, according to the big man’s (the former cop who is among the escapees) Facebook, he ready for anything, if he comes forward, that’s it. If so be it, we are willing, we are ready.”
Jul 29, 2017Election of Cricket Boards process to begin The Guyana Cricket Board’s two-man delegation (GCB) comprising its Secretary Anand Sanasie and Chairman of Selectors Rayon Griffith along with...
At its press conference this week, the WPA made a most absorbing declaration. It said that it wants the Coalition administration... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders This commentary continues the discussion on the relevance and state of US-Caribbean relations against... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.