August 11, 2006
Five men executed at Kaieteur News Printery

GUYANA – A large band of gunmen stormed into the Kaieteur News printery at Eccles Tuesday night and executed five men after shooting wildly in Bagotstown and killing another man.

Dead are: Chetram Persaud, 46, 76 CC, Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD); Eion Wegman, 47, of 51 Fourth Street, Alberttown; Richard Stewart, 24, of 239 Lamaha Park, East La Pennitence; Mark Maikoo also called ‘Marko’, 22 of Lot 5 Yarrow Dam, La Penitence; Shazeem Mohamed, whose address was given as Eccles and Wordsworth Grey, 32 of Lot 31 Norton Street, Bagotstown, EBD.{{more}}

The gunmen created a bloody arc of terror from Bagotstown to Eccles last night which left many stunned and raised serious questions about the Joint Services’ control of the crime situation.

Those at Kaieteur News were all made to lie face down on the ground by the gunmen, who shot them each in the head. Four of them died at the scene, while another died en route to the public hospital in the city. The security guard at the facility, Julian de Grace who was attacked prior to the executions survived, as did one of the workers who remained in hiding throughout the five-minute ordeal.

Based on the witness accounts at the scene, the men forced the guard to open the gates of the compound and then they shot him as he alerted the other workers to their presence.

When the guard alerted the workers about the gunmen, all five men ran into the building to hide from them.

Khemchand Harripersaud and two others ran into the washroom at the rear. The men followed the workers inside the building where they demanded that all of them come out of hiding. The other two men went out, but Harripersaud did not follow and instead waited as he heard the men instruct the others to lie on the floor.

“One said, ‘Kill them; don’t waste time,” he recounted, visibly distraught after his harrowing experience.”

Persaud’s relatives said he had only left home for the press twenty minutes before they heard the gunshots. Just a short time earlier the same group is believed to have been responsible for a blitz at Bagotstown, which left shop owner Grey, 32, of Lot 31 Norton Street, dead.

Publisher of Kaieteur News Glenn Lall told Stabroek News this morning that it was a ‘bunch’ of cowards who committed the acts. He said it was very difficult for him to make an assumption as to the motive of the gunmen, but he asserted that it is clear that the men were trying to send a message. “They are a bunch of cowards…why they kill these men…why they did not kill me? Lall, with tears streaming down his cheeks declared.

“Look at these men,” he continued pointing to the bullet-riddled bodies of his pressmen who lay on the concrete floor in the printery. “These men don’t even have $20 in their pocket…these men don’t do anything else than pick up papers, why kill them,” a tearful Lall declared. He said the gunmen would not halt his progress as a businessman, noting that he will continue to print his newspapers. “I will not stop printing the news. I did nothing illegal so I am not fearful of anything,” a defiant Lall said.

He told reporters that he was in the area around 9:15 pm last night when he heard rapid gunshots in the area of Bagotstown. Lall said that he quickly alerted his reporters to get on the story but a short while after he learnt that his printery had been attacked and some of his workers killed. He said when he got to the scene, the gunmen had already left. “I can’t believe this happened, these are cowards,” Lall, who had experienced an attack on the said press three years ago, remarked.

Events unfolded in quick succession, beginning with a protest at the Camp Street Prison, following by the East Bank attacks, first at Bagotstown, then at Eccles. Although it was not immediately clear whether all of the incidents of last night were in fact related, acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene told reporters that the sequence of events did divert the police response.

Greene added that a number of 7.62 rounds were recovered at the Bagotstown scene, suggesting the use of M-70s or AK-47 rifles, though he said that it was too soon to say whether the weapons might have been used in a previous attack. There were also several .32 shells recovered at the Eccles crime scene.

The campaign on the East Bank began at Bagotstown at about 9:45 p.m. when a gang of heavily-armed men overran Norton Street, firing shots off indiscriminately while running into homes and terrorising the residents.