By Michael Jordan
“You want to play?” Figueira asked the gunman who was standing near the table with the stack of dominoes.
“Play?” the man with the shotgun replied. “We …doan… play… games.”
Then he squeezed the trigger…
Brentnol Figueira was probably the last person in the Player’s Club to notice the gunmen, even though the short one with the shotgun was standing just behind him.
Figueira didn’t notice because he was backing the entrance, and because he was absorbed in a domino game, and because he was slightly intoxicated.
Perhaps things might have turned out differently that Friday night – June 10, 2005 – had he not been drinking.
But perhaps not. The gunmen who had spawned the country’s ‘crime wave’— into its fourth year at the time —sometimes seemed to kill just for the fun of it.
When they weren’t targeting civilians, they were targeting the police, and when they weren’t targeting the lawmen, they were targeting each other. Maybe it was just Brentnol Figueira’s time.
Now don’t let the fancy name fool you. The Player’s Club, or Nicky’s Shop, as it was also called, was just a small, roughly-built structure with a few benches and a television set.
Part shop, part beer garden, it was the only hangout spot in ‘E’ Field, Sophia, one of the most impoverished sections of the community. There was no electricity in the area, but the proprietor of the Player’s Club had a generator.
Figueira and his wife, Dianne, a teacher by profession, lived some 300 metres away in ‘D’ Field, Sophia, in a two-storey concrete house.
A regular patron of the Club, he was a jovial, free-handed individual, who seldom had to be asked twice to buy a round or two.
At around 14:00 hrs on June 10, 2005, Figueira arrived home and handed his salary to his wife.
He explained to her that he was going to complete some work before going for a drink with friends.
Figueira returned home at around 18:00 hrs, while his wife was preparing dinner.
“You want to go to the Fish Shop?” he asked Dianne.
Dianne looked at her husband and immediately realized that he had taken one drink too many.
No, she replied. She didn’t want to go to the Fish Shop.
“You see how you stay? I wan’ go out and I got to beg you like we still courting,” Brentnol teased.
Dianne, a Seventh Day Adventist, pointed out that her ‘Sabbath’ was approaching. Besides, she said, it was dark. She suggested that Brentnol take an early rest.
But Brentnol Figueira would have none of that. He told his wife that he was going “up the road”.
Telling Dianne he would send a ‘runner’ (one of the youths in the community) with a mosquito coil and a Malta for her, Brentnol then left for the Player’s Club.
On arrival, Figueira bought a bottle of Banko wine, settled into a corner with a few friends and became engaged in a game of dominoes.
Other patrons focused on a movie that was being shown on the television set.
And so none of them saw when the five men suddenly appeared.
Four of them had handguns. The fifth, a short individual, brandished a shotgun.
Three of the gunmen remained on guard outside while the other two, including the one with the shotgun, entered the night spot.
One of the men walked over to the section of the shop which the proprietor and his wife occupied.
The short man with the shotgun took up position a few feet from Figueira.
By now, some of the patrons had become aware of their presence. However, many assumed that the men were police ranks. After all, the cops conducted regular raids in the area.
Figueira, though, backing the entrance, was still engrossed in his wine and his domino game.
Some of the patrons were reacting too slowly for the bandits’ liking and the short bandit with the shotgun said: “Like y’all want I shoot.”
He was within earshot of Brentnol Figueira, who now became aware of the men’s presence.
Turning around in his seat, Figueira said loudly: “Is who deh talking ‘bout shooting?”
“Shut yuh mouth,” the short bandit with the shotgun said menacingly.
Still unaware of the danger, the slightly intoxicated Figueira said jovially: “Y’all is police? Y’all want play? Is twenty dollar a love.”
The short gunman edged closer to Figueira.
“Game?” he said. “We …doan… play… games.”
He pointed the shotgun at Figueira. He cocked his weapon.
And still, it seemed, Figueira didn’t sense the danger.
He said: “Jus suh you gun shoot me?”
The gunman squeezed the trigger.
The blast hurled Figueira from his seat. He was dead before he hit the ground.
“IT SOUNDED LIKE A CANNON”
After her husband left for the club, Dianne Figueira decided to go over to a female neighbour who was also one of her best friends.
Father’s Day was two Sundays away, but the two women were already making plans.
They eventually decided to buy shirts for their husbands.
At around 21:00 hrs, Dianne informed the friend that she was leaving.
But just as she reached the door, both women heard a loud explosion nearby.
“That sound like a cannon,” Dianne said.
“Girl, how they gun got cannon in Guyana?” the friend retorted. “That is a gunshot.”
Dianne Figueira immediately hurried home. She was taking a bath when she heard someone calling outside.
Finishing her bath, Mrs. Figueira hurried to her door. Two boys from the community were standing by her gate.
She greeted them.
“Yuh husband get shoot,” one of the boys said.
She had heard the boom of the shotgun just minutes before, yet Dianne Figueira refused to connect that gunshot to her husband.
“You mad,” she told the boys. “My husband can’t get shoot.”
“Yes,” the boys replied. “He get shoot and he dead.”
Accompanied by the youths, Dianne Figueira rushed over to the Player’s Club. There, she saw her husband lying motionless on the ground.
She shook him. She tried to revive him. But, from the huge hole in his chest, she knew that he was dead.
Some of the victims would later recall that after killing Figueira, the gunmen relieved the beer garden owner, Linden Headley, of $30,000 and took his wife’s earrings.
They also relieved the patrons, numbering about 20, of small sums of cash after ordering them to lie on the ground. Some claimed they were beaten.
They also took coins from some children who were at the shop with their parents.
The eyewitnesses said that the men also tried to cart off a generator, but eventually ditched it nearby and wended their way further into ‘E’ Field, Sophia.
Word of the killing spread quickly, and a squad of ‘black clothes’ policemen, guns at the ready, made their way in pitch darkness through the backlands to the murder scene.
But by then, the gunmen had vanished.
They have never been identified.
Within a week the Player’s Club was closed. The owners packed up and left, never to return. Some other residents also left the area as a result of the shocking incident.
A little more than three years after, I interviewed Dianne Figueira, who reflected that she still had not recovered from the trauma of her husband’s violent death.
“I am not afraid,” she told me. “I just feel sadness, a great loss. It affected me (tremendously). I have to do everything on my own. My husband was always there to assist me.”
And she still wondered what fate had befallen the gunmen who killed him.
She took some comfort in the belief that they might have been slain over the past few years, during the many encounters that such individuals had with the Joint Services, and lost.
“I guess that these guys might have died, the Force was working overtime (to catch the criminals).
Every bad man has his day.”
If you have further information on this case or any other, please contact us at our Lot 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown office or by telephone.
We can be reached on telephone numbers 22-58465, 22-58491, or 22-58458. You need not disclose your identity.
You can also contact Michael Jordan at his email address [email protected].
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