– fourth man, girlfriend captured
Three members of the gang that was believed to have carried out a spate of brazen robberies at Bartica and outlying communities were shot dead yesterday during a pre-dawn gunfight with Joint Services ranks at Arimu Backdam, Cuyuni.
Police said that 25-year-old Dwayne Marks called “Bully” of Bartica; Antwan Smith, 35, called “Deportee” of Linden ; and Gavin Gray, 27, called “Sweet Eyes” of Bartica, were slain at around 02:30 hrs after opening fire on the ranks who had tracked them down.
A fourth man, identified as Lorenzo De Freitas of Parika, East Bank Essequibo, was captured several hours later by a group of Brazilian miners in the Arimu area. His girlfriend was also captured.
Police said that De Freitas was spotted with the other gang members during the shootout, but he managed to escape.
A police rank, identified as Lance Corporal 16834 Issacs, was wounded in the right forearm.
The bodies of the slain men were first taken by army helicopter to Bartica and then by speedboat to Parika. A hearse then brought the corpses to Georgetown.
A police statement said that Dwayne Marks was before the court on charges of discharging a loaded firearm with intent, break and enter and larceny and simple larceny, for which he was on bail.
According to the statement, he was also a suspect in the murder of gas station owner Brandis Roberts of Parika, who was found in his home with marks of violence to his body on November 30, 2008.
Police believe that he was the leader of the gang.
Antwan Smith was also before the court on a charge of robbery under arms and was on bail.
A police statement said that the Joint Services recovered two .38 revolvers and eight rounds of ammunition, and a .32 pistol with six matching rounds from the slain men.
The ranks also recovered an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that was stolen from Brazilian miner, Osmar Oliveira Da Silva, who was shot in the left leg at Arimu Backdam on February 18, 2009.
Two men and two women carried out that attack.
“In addition, a resident of Bartica who was the victim of an armed robbery at Mongrippa Hill, Bartica on February 02, 2009 has identified a cell phone found on the body of Gavin Gray as his property which was stolen during the robbery,” police said.
The statement said that, at around 02:30 hrs yesterday, the Joint Services were responding to a report of an armed robbery in the Arimu Backdam, Cuyuni when they came under fire while travelling along the Arimu Trail.
“The ranks returned fire resulting in three men being fatally shot, while Police Lance Corporal 16834 Issacs sustained a gunshot injury to his right forearm.”
Word of the bandits’ demise spread quickly through Bartica, and by 09:00 hrs several curious residents had already gathered outside the Bartica Hospital in anticipation of the arrival of the bodies.
When the ranks eventually arrived, they were forced to lock the hospital gates to prevent onlookers from entering.
Among the crowd were Gavin Gray’s relatives, some of whom erupted into loud wailing.
The pandemonium continued when the bodies arrived at Parika, with residents converging at the wharf as the bodies arrived.
Undertakers had a difficult time carrying the bandits from the boat to the hearse.
One of the undertakers even fell while lifting one of the corpses.
Police believe that the gang, allegedly led by Marks, carried out over ten robberies within a few days in Bartica alone.
The victims were mainly persons in the gold-mining industry.
One robbery occurred on the first anniversary of the slaughter of 13 people in the community.
It is believed that the bandits were forced to operate further in the interior because of the increase of police patrols in Bartica.
After the attack on Da Silva at Cuyuni, the Joint Services, aided by the GDF helicopter, deployed several ranks near the Cuyuni River.
The mother of alleged gang leader, Dwayne Marks, described her son as a “hard-working boy” and opined that he was framed by the police.
She confirmed that he had several recent matters before the court.
She recounted that her son was charged for possession of an unlicensed firearm and for shooting at police ranks at Bartica in 2007.
However, the suspect escaped from police custody but was recaptured and jailed for a year.
“During the time he was in custody they were still calling his name,” she said.
He was released from prison late last year.
And a brother of Gavin Gray also said that he was “shocked” that his sibling had been identified as one of the gunmen who were preying on the community.
According to the brother, Gray had worked with the family’s gold-mining business as a truck driver.
However, the suspect stopped working a few months ago, and the brother said he was unaware of his sibling’s whereabouts.
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