Latest update March 24th, 2023 12:59 AM
Dec 13, 2016 News
– Ex-cop among seven detained
By Malisa Playter Harry
A former policeman and six others were in custody last night as detectives attempt to track down a gang of 15 heavily-armed individuals who escaped with some $21M in cash and jewellery, after launching a military-style, pre-dawn attack at the home of a Number 79 Village, Corentyne cambio dealer.
The bandits, who were armed with assault rifles, shotguns and cutlasses, used sledgehammers to smash their way into the Lot 93 Albert Street home of businessman Devendra Churaman, also called “Katak,” shortly after 01:15 hrs yesterday.
Churaman said that the masked men escaped with some $1M in jewellery, but could not say exactly how much money was taken. However, police said the gang made off with $20M in local and foreign currency.
Churaman said that he was told that the gang fled through a nearby track which could take them to canefields in the area.
‘B’ Division Commander Senior Superintendent Errol Watts told Kaieteur News that his ranks have detained seven men, who reside at various areas in Berbice, including Canje and New Amsterdam.
He said that an ex-policeman is among the detainees, most of whom have previous charges for armed robbery.
The suspects have already been swabbed for possible traces of gunpowder residue.
Commander Watts said that the suspects were taken into custody “based on evidence received,” and will also be placed on identification parade.
So far, none of the loot has been recovered.
There are reports that while five gunmen entered Churaman’s home, ten others stood guard in the street, while firing shots to keep neighbours at bay.
Shots were also fired directly into Churaman’s home.
Confirming the extent of the gang’s firepower, Deputy Superintendent Gary McAllister said that 21 live 7.62 x 39 rounds (used in the AK-47 rifle), about eight 7.62 x 39 shells; two twelve-gauge shotgun cartridges, and a warhead were retrieved from the scene.
Churaman and several neighbours said that the gunmen took some 20 minutes to enter the residence, and spent another 20 minutes inside.
However, ranks at the Springlands Police Station allegedly took at least an hour and 15 minutes to arrive, despite receiving a number of phone calls from the victim and neighbours while the attack was in progress.
Churaman told Kaieteur News that he was alone when the men smashed their way into his home.
“Dem man tek sledge hammer and bruk meh steel door and front window and come in.
“About five of dem come in meh house with one set ah big big gun and start fire shots”. Churaman stated that the men took approximately 20 minutes to enter his home, during which time he called a police rank from Georgetown. This rank reportedly made contact with the Springlands Station, but no one came.
Springlands Police Station is reportedly located some two minutes away from Churaman’s residence.
“When they (the gunmen) got in, dem start pull out and tumble up, they had me at gunpoint asking for the cash.”
Churaman related to Kaieteur News that he told the bandits that he hadn’t money at home but this angered one of the men, who rushed up to him with a cutlass.
He revealed that the men used a steel hammer to remove a steel door to his bedroom. They also searched another room in the upper flat, where they located an undisclosed sum of money and about $1M in jewellery.
Churaman stated that throughout the ordeal he was ordered to lay face-down with a gun pointed at his head.
The gang also vandalized surveillance cameras on the premises.
Churaman’s wife and two children were not at home at the time of the robbery.
According to a resident, at around 01:45 hrs, “we just hear like gunshots going off. We didn’t know if it was fire rockets, but when my son peep through the window, he saw four persons trying fuh break open the door and front window (of Churaman’s house), so we immediately called the police.”
He said that seven calls were made to the Springlands Police Station, but the ranks said that no patrol was available.
“This ting tek like about twenty minutes, a lot of gunshots were fired, like about sixty, seventy, I can’t really say, but plenty,”
Another resident told Kaieteur News that “I heard the explosions and talking going on. One ah dem (bandits) askin if “alyuh get everything bai?” but I ain’t hear no response, but then I hear ah next one say “let’s move it.”
That is all I hear, because I didn’t come out.
I stay in me house after I hear the gunshots.”
Commander Watts, who visited the scene, said “we discovered twenty-one live 7.62 by 39 rounds of ammunition and we also retrieved cartridge casings, so it clearly tells us that these men were armed with rifles and shotguns.
“Fortunately, the victim was not shot, but several rounds were fired in the area which caused residents to be alarmed.”
Commander Watts also said that a team from Georgetown will be sent to boost the manpower at the Springlands Station.
Asked about the slow response time by his ranks, the Commander said that “we had ranks on the road, but information was not immediate for us to respond to.
I received a call at my residence at 02:50 hrs, and I can confirm this.”
The commander charged that with the increased manpower to support the police in township of Corriverton “this should reassure the public that we are concerned and we have adequate security measures in place to have a crime-free holiday.”
Lies, Lies, Lies!!!
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