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Monday, April 03, 2006
Police, gunmen exchange fire at Buxton funeral of Ryan Beckles
Stabroek News

Police and gunmen in Buxton yesterday exchanged fire during the funeral procession of Ryan Beckles who was killed in a confrontation with the lawmen last week Sunday.

Stabroek News was told that heavily-armed policemen had lined the Buxton/Friendship Public Road yesterday in anticipation of the customary gunfire that accompanies the burial of gunmen in the East Coast community.

It is not clear who fired first, but according to reports rapid bursts of gunfire came from both the gunmen and the police. Stabroek News could not confirm whether anyone was injured.

Ballistic tests done last week concluded that the weapon that was found on Beckles had been used during the slaughter of eight people at Agricola in February. Police had found an M-15 rifle on Beckles along with a large quantity of matching rounds. Police had said in a statement that the 24-year-old was wanted for questioning in connection with a number of reports of murder and robbery under arms. A policeman, Gowcharran Lakeram, was wounded in the hip during last week's exchange. Reports were that around 5.20 last Sunday morning at Punt Dam, police came under heavy and sustained gunfire from gunmen who were using tracer rounds. Police returned fire, and it was after this exchange that Beckles was found dead. He was dressed all over in black, giving him a police-like appearance, and had one M15 rifle strapped to his back along with a black pouch containing 331 rounds of matching 5.56mm ammunition and 16 rounds of 7.62 x 39 calibre ammunition.

During the operation the police also searched a total of 25 houses and ranks 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 police had called on all armed groups to surrender, saying that the force would relentlessly seek them out if they did not put down their guns.