After eluding capture for several months while creating fear in the several East Coast Demerara communities, luck finally ran out on notorious armed robber/rapist Courtney James. He was shot dead by police early yesterday morning.
James, 23, of Melanie Damishana was shot twice by a police rank, the bullets hitting him in his abdomen and chest, during a confrontation near the junction of Mandela Avenue and the East Bank Public Road.
James had narrowly escaped capture last Saturday when police raided a Haslington, East Coast Demerara house. He left two weapons an AK-47 assault rifle and a .32 revolver behind.
This newspaper has since confirmed that the AK-47 is part of the stock of weapons that went missing from the Guyana Defence Force Headquarters, Camp Ayanganna in February 2006.
Police in a statement yesterday, said that James, for whom a wanted bulletin had been issued on April 22, was seen yesterday morning by members of a mobile police patrol jumping over a fence at Alexander Village.
“He was challenged by the police ranks, whereupon he discharged two rounds at them. They returned fire hitting him about the body,” the police press release said.
The police added that they recovered a .32 revolver with three live rounds and two spent shells.
But this newspaper has received a different version of how James met his end.
Kaieteur News was told that James tried to escape after being ordered out of a West Bank Demerara bound minibus when he was shot.
This newspaper was told that the police got word that the notorious criminal who was wanted for a series of rape and armed robberies was in a West Bank Demerara-bound minibus.
According to a source, the police were given a description of the minibus and a traffic rank who was in the vicinity, was advised to stop the vehicle.
A passenger in the bus told this newspaper that after the bus stopped, a policeman came up and ordered everybody out.
James, the passenger said whipped out an object from his waist and tried to attack the rank when he was shot once.
He then tried to run but was shot again and fell to the ground.
“De man did sit down in de bus like an ordinary passenger. We didn’t know he was a criminal. Is when the police tell we who he is then we realize is wha happening,” the passenger told this newspaper.
The passenger said that he could not say if the object James pulled out was a gun or not since everyone ducked when the gunshots rang out.
James’s death has brought relief to the police ranks on the East Coast of Demerara who had been trying to apprehend him for several months.
“After we found the weapons and his hideout (Saturday), he’s been on the run and since then we’ve been after him,” Divisional Commander for the Police East Coast Demerara Division, Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud said.
He explained that yesterday morning, acting on information, the police went to the East Bank Demerara junction with Mandela Avenue where they confronted James.
“He was armed, he opened fire and the police retaliated. I understand he was hit in the chest and abdomen. He was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival,” Assistant Commissioner Persaud told the media, shortly after James’s death.
Courtney James was wanted by the police in connection with a recent spate of armed robberies and rapes committed on the East Coast Demerara between November 26, last and May 14, 2009.
He was the prime suspect in the armed robbery committed on Magistrate Nigel Hawke at his home at Non Pareil on April 20, in addition to 33 other reports of robbery under arms.
James was also reported to have raped six of his victims during the robberies.
He had managed to elude the police last Saturday by jumping from a building at Haslington, when the police descended on the hideout. They later searched it.
An AK 47 rifle with eight matching rounds and a .32 Taurus revolver were recovered by the ranks and another man was arrested.
Yesterday, Commander Persaud said that the police were confident of catching the notorious bandit after he slipped them on Saturday.
“We had information that he was in Bare Roots and would be coming out because we were on to him yesterday (Sunday), on to last night in the area. We were behind him all the time, so we knew he would have fled the area. The other divisions and branches were alerted; they were on the lookout,” he explained.
He added that with James’s death an entire criminal network has been dismantled.
“We knew sooner or later the long arm of the law would pull him in. His time came. From Saturday when we swooped down on that house and started wrapping up his network, the end was near. There are a number of persons in custody who some way or the other might have assisted him,” the police divisional commander said.
Among the persons detained is a policewoman who this newspaper understands provides security at the home of a Government Minister.
She lives in a house next to the one from which the police recovered James’s weapons.
Police are investigating whether the policewoman had knowledge of James presence, him being her neighbour.
Investigators are claiming that the woman should have known that James was there since a wanted bulletin with a photograph of the suspect was published in the media.
According to a source arrangements are reportedly being made to have her struck off from the Force.
Many residents on the East Coast of Demerara also greeted news of James’s death with relief.
Sources in the Paradise area told this newspaper that they were prepared to confront him since he had attacked several women from that community.
When shown a photograph of the dead Courtney James one victim was certain that he was the man that had attacked him.
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