A gang of marauding gunmen created havoc in the East Coast Demerara village of Lusignan, killing 11 persons, including five children, in one of the deadliest attacks in recent years.
The gunmen struck at around 02:00 hours yesterday, simultaneously kicking down the doors of five houses, slaughtering even children as they lay sleeping in their beds.
Three persons were also injured, while at least three others escaped certain death by hiding as the gunmen went on their rampage.
While the gunmen robbed one family of jewellery in some cases, the motive of the attack does not appear to be just robbery.
In 15 minutes of terror, the gunmen, who numbered about 20, all armed with rifles and shotguns, massacred their victims, including an entire family comprising a mother and her two sleeping children, in a 15-minute ordeal that has left almost the entire East Coast Demerara in shock.
Among the dead are Shazam Mohamed; Clarence Thomas; his son, Ron, 11; daughter, Vanessa 12; Mohandai Gourdat, 32; her two children: Seegobind, four-years-old, and Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Shalem Baksh, 52; Rooplall Seecharan, 56; his daughter, Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; and his wife, Dhanrajie, called Sister, 52.
The injured are Howard Thomas, 19, Nadir Mohamed, 48, and Roberto Thomas, five.
Most of the dead were shot in their stomachs and were left lying in pools of blood that covered most of the floors of their modest homes.
The Police Ballistic Laboratory has since matched some of the spent the shells found at Lusignan as follows: Five 5.56 shells matched 5.56 shells found at the scene of Drakes's murder in Agricola. The thirty five 7.62 x 39 spent shells matched eighteen shells found at the scene of Minister Satyadeow Sawh's murder, the murder of the MMC security guards at Two Brothers gas station, Brumell and Scott at Agricola and the attack at Canal No. Two in 2007.
Speaking to this newspaper, one of the survivors of yesterday’s massacre, Bibi Zalika Baksh, whose husband, Shalem, was killed, said that at around 02:00 hours they heard the shooting which, she said, started at a house two doors away.
The woman said that the family was downstairs in the two-flat house, and by the time they ran upstairs and secured themselves under a bed, the bandits, who she said appeared to be all over the place, began breaking down doors.
According to Baksh, the men ordered the family to open their door, but the family was too terrified to make another move.
Within seconds, their front louvre windows were shattered and some of the men entered.
“They pull out me husband from under the bed and tell him, 'Give we de money and de jewellery',” Mrs. Baksh recalled.
She said that her husband begged the men to spare his life but they shot him in cold blood.
Baksh said that she and her daughter were also under the bed from which her husband was pulled, but the bandits, in their haste, did not see them.
She explained that, before her husband was shot, she attempted to come out from her hiding place to hand over whatever valuables the family had with the hope of saving their lives.
But her indecision probably saved her life and her 14-year-old daughter's.
She said that the gunmen went downstairs looking for the rest of the family, but eventually left when they did not find them.
Gaumattie Thomas, whose husband and two children were killed, recalled that she did not see what happened but was listening keenly from her hiding place in her house. According to Thomas, her husband tried to push in the door even as the killers were trying to enter the house.
However, the gunmen overpowered him and forced their way into the house, shooting the 52-year-old Clarence Thomas dead in the process. His body was left lying on the stairs.
“I was just hiding in the corner. Ow! Ah couldn't talk, ah couldn't do nothing. They did not see me. Then they say, 'Watch two more deh on de bed. Kill dem! Kill dem',” Mrs. Thomas told this newspaper.
She said that the men shot her sleeping son, Ron, and they then snatched her daughter, Vanessa, from her bed, and although she screamed and begged for her life, she, too, was cold bloodedly gunned down.
Another son, Howard, received a bullet and fell off his bed, a move that certainly saved his life. She said
that maybe if the men had discovered the switch for the light in the house, the entire family would have been slaughtered.
She is, however, fearful of remaining in her house, since she said that the men promised to return.
At the home of Shazam Mohamed, his mother, Bibi Khan, told Kaieteur News that five of them were in the house when the bandits attacked. She said that the men kicked and shot out their front door to gain entry into the house.
“Dem shoot, shoot. Awe nah open fuh dead. Me tell dem (family) fuh hide, sit down easy and hide, nah come out,” she recalled.
She said that she later heard her husband, Nadir Mohamed, groaning and came out from her hiding place, only to see her son, Shazam, lying badly wounded in a pool of blood.
“He call out, 'Ow, mammy, give me some water fuh drink and throw some pon me skin',” Khan recalled.
Noreen Seecharran, whose father, Rooplall; mother, Dhanrajie; and sister, Raywattie, were all killed, said that she was at her home in Enterprise -- two miles away -- when she received a call that her relatives were injured.
She was not told that they were dead.
It was only when she and another sister arrived at their parents' home that they realised the extent of the carnage.
Rajkumar Harilall, called Bobby, left Guyana on Thursday for Trinidad. He received the shocking news that his wife, Mohandai Gourdat, and two sons had been killed in the carnage. He immediately booked a flight to Guyana and returned home.
So unbearable was the reality of what had happened to his family that he kept slipping in and out of consciousness.
Residents were upset at the slow police response. They said that the police refused to answer several telephone calls even as the massacre was in progress.
This was brought to the attention of Acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene, who visited the area early yesterday morning and promised a full investigation into the conduct of his ranks.
Many residents expressed horror that the children were not spared.
“Dem nah come fuh rob. Look how dem kill dem pickney while dem sleeping,” was one of the frequent comments.
“Dis government gat fuh resign; dem can't protect we,” was another.
President Bharrat Jagdeo led a team of ministers to the community to console residents, but they were met with a high level of hostility.
Several persons called for the government to step down since, according to them, they cannot effectively protect the citizenry.
President Jagdeo assured that significant measures will be implemented to ensure security for every Guyanese. He, however, urged that residents resuscitate the defunct community policing groups in their areas.