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Monday, March 27, 2006
Gunman dies after Buxton gang opens fire on police -one cop injured
Stabroek News
Members of the Tactical Services Unit taking a break after a fierce gun battle between them and gunmen in Buxton yesterday morning.

A group of armed men opened fire twice on policemen during an operation in Buxton yesterday morning and at the end of the confrontation one gunman was killed, a law enforcer injured and police recovered a M15 rifle, ammo, a bow and six arrows and medical supplies.

The dead gunman has been identified as Ryan Beckles also known as Ryan Harris, of Vigilance Squatting Area, East Coast Demerara. He was identified by his mother, Jocelyn Beckles, after lunch yesterday at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) mortuary.

A police release also identified the man as 'Reverend' and said he was wanted for questioning in connection with a number of reports of murder and robbery under arms.

According to the police release, at around 5:20 am at Punt Dam, ranks came under heavy and sustained gunfire from a group of armed men using tracer rounds to which the police returned fire as they continued their advance.

It was during this exchange of gunfire, the police said, Beckles was found dead. "He was dressed in all over black, giving a police-like appearance, and had one M15 rifle strapped to his back along with a black pouch which contained 331 rounds of matching 5.56mm ammunition and 16 rounds 7.62 x 39 calibre ammunition," the release said.

This house on Middle Street, Buxton came under heavy gunfire during yesterday's police operation.

The release further said that after the armed confrontation, a large group of women from Friendship and Vigilance Squatting area came out and began to behave in a hostile and antagonistic manner towards the police. They also shouted in their attempts to alert the gunmen to the police presence and also pointed out where the ranks were located. The gunmen then opened fire again on the ranks resulting in a police corporal being shot in his left hip. The police returned fire and it is believed that another of the gunmen was shot as indications supporting this were seen.

The injured policeman was admitted to a private hospital and is in a stable condition.

According to the release during the operation the police searched a total of twenty-five houses. It said that the ranks also found a quantity of medical supplies that included antibiotics, bandages, gauze, dressings and foot powder as well as six arrows, one bow, four spears, one green flak jacket, one pair of camouflage pants, one green army type bag, one camouflage hammock, one sheet and one camouflage jersey.

The Guyana Police Force also issued a warning to all armed groups. "The Guyana Police Force is calling on all armed groups to surrender their arms and drugs as the police will relentlessly seek them out in its quest to maintain law and order".

When Stabroek News visited the area hours after the shooting, villagers were mum on the incident while the area was unusually quiet.

Beckles's mother told Stabroek News that the last time she saw him was three weeks ago since he had moved out from the home.

He is the second of five children and his mother said early yesterday morning she heard gunshots and her youngest son informed her that police were in the area. She said she did not pay the law enforcement officers any attention but instead prepared herself, children and grandchildren for church. On her way to church she said she was told that her son might have been killed but continued on her way to the Lord's house where she was again told that her son might have been shot. It was only after Stabroek News visited the woman's home that she decided to verify if it was indeed her son who was killed.

She said she was not told much about her son's death only that he was standing on a bridge when he was hit. She said from what she saw when she viewed the body her son was shot behind the head. The woman would not say much about her son's life only to say he was not living her way and she lamented that she didn't know how she was going to bury him since she is very poor.

Stabroek News understands that Beckles was found in a trench with his hand sticking out. Reports indicated that after the police came under fire from the gunmen they cordoned off the area and the gunmen started to flee. Beckles reportedly in his attempt to escape took the wrong direction and was shot.

The appearance of the armed group reinforces recent reports that gunmen had been seen in Buxton in recent weeks and during the funeral of talkshow host Ronald Waddell. The finding of black police-like clothing may also be important as recent attacks such as the one at Agricola/Eccles in which eight people died featured gunmen in black clothing. The police have said that some of the shells retrieved in Agricola/Eccles matched those from guns used by Buxton-based gunmen. They had also said that tracer rounds were used in the Agricola attack as in yesterday's.