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Monday, February 13, 2006
Grove shop owner slain -bandits jumped fence, walked away
By Oluatoyin Alleyne

A gunman on Saturday night mortally wounded a Grove, East Bank Demerara (EBD) shop owner and then jumped the fence with his cohorts and nonchalantly walked away while the man's wife screamed for help.

Forty-nine-year-old Totaram Manna, of 377 Third Street, Grove, EBD, was pronounced dead at the George-town Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) after he received a gunshot wound to the right side of his abdomen.

A police release said that the incident occurred around 10:45 pm. While Manna was tending his shop at the front of his yard he was confronted by the attackers. The release said that two stayed with him while the other went into the house and demanded cash and jewellery from his wife and niece.

The man's grieving wife, Jennifer Manna, said she heard her husband shouting "murder, murder, deh murdering me," before she heard a single gunshot wound.

The woman told Stabroek News she was ironing in the bottom flat of the two- bedroom home when she heard some strange noises outside. She said she went through the backdoor of her house with the intention of going up to her mother-in-law who lives upstairs but found that her door was closed.

"Is coming in back I coming in back when I see de man in the house and right away me know is bandit," the woman said.

She said that the man had entered their house through the front door and went into the front room where her husband's 18-year-old niece was and demanded cash and jewellery. The woman said the teenager was so scared that she just stood dumbfounded without answering and he came outside and found her (the wife) standing in the hallway.

"I start foh scream but he tell me don't say a word," the woman said. She then ran through the backdoor and hid underneath a shed in the backyard and it is from there she heard her husband hollering `murder' and then the solitary gunshot.

Jennifer then observed two men exiting the shop and they jumped the fence and went into the street. She said she saw the third man exiting another yard.

"I not sure when he go in de yard but I see he walking out de yard and join the next two and they calmly walk through de street," she said.

The woman recalled that after the men left the scene she went to the front of the yard and saw them walking through the street. She ran out of the yard screaming for help. She then went into the shop, called 'Little Man's Paradise', where she found her husband on his knees. When she entered the shop he attempted to get up but fell.

The woman said she saw just a small spot of blood on her husband's t-shirt where he was shot and felt that he was going to live. Because she was so traumatised two neighbours took the man to the hospital and a nephew living on the East Coast went to the hospital and found out that the man had succumbed. A call was then made to the woman giving her the dreadful news.

The woman said that she is not sure if the men escaped with any money but noted she found no money in the shop after the robbery.

"But is nah no kinda money does deh in the shop," she said adding that her husband must have fought off the men in a bid to save his family.

She was somewhat surprised that the bandit who went into the house left calmly after his demands were not met.

Manna grew up at the address and was operating a small shop even before he and his wife married in 1984. The woman said they worked and built the shop into a thriving grocery and were never robbed before. The couple had no children.

While Stabroek News was there scores of policemen visited the scene and took lengthy statements from members of the family. A huge album of crime suspects was also shown to the family by the police in an attempt to ascertain whether one of the men on file could have committed the murder.

The lawmen also interviewed several of the couple's neighbours.

The many relatives and friends who flocked the couple's home spoke about how the man was a gem to the village. Scores of members from the Grove Church of The Nazarene - where the couple prayed - also visited yesterday.

Manna's killing was the second in two days at the hands of gunmen.

On Friday night, Seerajie Singh, a taxi driver of Ogle, died after she was shot in the mouth by gunmen.

Stabroek News