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Police kill suspected bandit in Berbice shootout – Guyana Times

…after security duct-taped as Region 6 RDC robbed of millions

By Andrew Carmicheal

Region Six Chairman David Armogan

A suspected bandit is now dead after a shootout with Police in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 13.
That shootout follows a robbery that occurred at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) building at Vryman’s Erven in New Amsterdam, Berbice at about 03:10hrs on that Wednesday.
Suresh Sooknanan, a 60-year -old security guard, told investigators that he was on duty at the RDC guard hut situated at the back of the main administrative building while three other security guards were on duty at other locations within the compound in the wee hours of Wednesday.

The car in which the suspected bandit was shot and killed

According to Sooknanan, some four men scaled the fence behind the building and dealt him a lash to his forehead with an object, causing him to receive injuries. He said his hands were then tied behind his back, and duct tape was placed over his mouth to silence him.
Sooknanan said nothing was taken from him, but he was left in the guard hut while the men disappeared. He told investigators that he made his way to the front, where he informed other security guards, who untied him and reported the matter to the Police.
The Police have said that on arrival at the building, checks were made and two windows to the Accounts Department were seen open.
Entry was seen to a door where access was gained into the building, and inside a room where an undisclosed amount of cash was kept. The room had an access door with reinforced grillwork; that was seen broken off, and an undisclosed amount of cash was reported missing.

Police in search of some of the men who escaped from the car

Regional Chairman David Armogan has since said that accountants are checking to determine how much cash was stolen. However, he noted that there was money inside the department for payment to about 1000 Government part-time workers, who are paid $40,000 per month. This amounted to $40 million.
“We have to await the findings of the Police to know how much money was lost, because the accountants are now working on that. They didn’t carry away all of the suitcases. Apparently, there was some money in another room, and they did not trouble that, but we don’t know how much money was in each room,” Regional Chairman Armogan told the media.
He added, “We have cameras, but they had gloves. One of them was at the door with a gun, based on the camera,” he explained.

The security hut where the guard was stationed, and the windows of the Accounts Department of the RDC building that were seen open

Armogan said the Police have advised that better security arrangements be put in place at the RDC building, especially when large sums of money would be on the premises.
“It is obvious that the security system that we have here, with one stationary guard at the back, two at the front gate somewhere else in the compound, with no arms, that is insufficient. It is insufficient to deal with a set of men coming in with arms,” he said.
Injured security guard Suresh Sooknanan has been taken to the New Amsterdam Public Hospital for medical attention.
According to the Police, several surveillance cameras around the building will be viewed as investigations continue.

Previous robberies
In April of this year, bandits had escaped with $1.4M in cash after breaking into the Ordnance Fort Lands- Number 38 NDC building. Most of the money was supposed to be paid to part-time workers. The bandits had also taken away $141,000 that had been property tax paid to the NDC.
On that occasion, the guard was held at gunpoint while the bandits had hammered their way through a grilled building. Central Government had subsequently reimbursed the money for the workers to be paid.

On Wednesday afternoon, Police came into contact with suspected bandits at Heathburn, East Bank Berbice, and a shootout resulted that left the suspected bandits dead, while two were subsequently arrested.
At about midday on Wednesday, ranks from the Central Police Station, acting on information received in relation to the RDC robbery, were going to Heathburn Village in East Berbice when they received information that motor vehicle PSS 3448 was proceeding north on the Heathburn Public Road. The ranks signalled the driver to stop, and he pulled to the western corner of the road and stopped. However, as the ranks were approaching the vehicle, the occupants therein shot at the Police and the vehicle sped off.

However, a rank returned fire in the direction of the fleeing vehicle, in which five occupants had been observed, and suddenly the vehicle stopped about eight hundred metres away. Police ranks gave chase, but before they reached the suspicious motorcar, they observed four persons exiting, three of whom ran to the western side of the road towards the river, while the driver lay on the ground.
While fleeing the scene, the three suspects discharged several rounds at the Police.
The ranks gave chase, but the suspects managed to escape.

According to eyewitness Roxanne Ward, she heard the sound of gunshots, and when she looked out, she saw three Police officers running towards the bush.
“I saw a black wagon car parked, and then the Police vehicle pulled up behind and a Police dismounted the vehicle and started running and he was shooting…Another Police vehicle came with three more Policemen and they all went into the yard over there, running behind whoever, but I didn’t see how many men ran in there, because they would have been ahead of the others,” Ward detailed.

When the Police looked into the vehicle, they observed a male seated in the front passenger seat with his body tilted towards the driver’s seat. He had what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the back of his head, and there was blood on the floor of the vehicle. He was picked up, and a handgun was found next to the gear stick.
He was rushed to the New Amsterdam Public Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
The driver has since been identified as Tarrique Pollard, called ‘Tari’, a 33-year-old taxi driver from Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara. He is presently in custody, assisting with the investigation.
As Police continued to comb the area, another suspect was captured and taken into custody to assist with the ongoing investigations.

Police have since identified him as Lawrence Van Lewyn, who has had several brushes with the law. He was slated to appear in a court in Berbice on Wednesday in relation to another armed robbery charge.
Police had issued a wanted bulletin for Van Lewyn in relation to a robbery committed in December 2022 at Sheet Anchor, East Canje.
The motor vehicle PSS 3448 is presently lodged at the Central Police Station, with the suspected firearm along with knives and a cutlass found in the vehicle.
This publication understands that several persons working at the RDC have since been taken into custody as the investigation continues.

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