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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bandit smiled, fired fatal shot
Ramjeet Rampersaud

One gunman smiled and another laughed before a single gunshot was fired into the chest of Ramjeet Rampersaud of Enterprise, East Coast Demerara on Thursday evening.

"It was as if they (gunmen) were playing when they shot him," Seeranie Rampersaud, the dead man's sister, commented yesterday. "The one who shoot had a smile on his face and the other one laugh," the woman, who managed to escape unhurt during the gunmen's assault said. Ramjeet was shot dead in cold blood as he sat on a bench near to a culvert at the entrance of Enterprise on Thursday evening. The gunman who shot him had earlier robbed a grocery store and lumberyard at Non Pareil. He and his accomplices were fleeing into Bare Root when they encountered Rampersaud. They made no attempt to rob the man, which left residents baffled as to their real motive. Tensions have run high in the villages of Non Pareil, Enterprise, Annandale and Coldingen in the past, as roaming bandits from nearby Buxton and Bare Root have attacked residents with impunity. Police up to yesterday had not made any arrest.

Recounting the incident to Stabroek News yesterday, Seeranie said that on Thursday she and her husband visited Enterprise to check on their relatives.

According to the woman around 7:30 pm she left her husband at her brother's house, while she and Rampersaud went to catch a bus at the entrance of the village. She said it took them some time to get a vehicle and as such they both sat on a bench next to a culvert. Seeranie told Stabroek News that it was while sitting on the bench she saw three men approaching them. Two others, one dressed in a white shirt, were lurking around a few metres away. One of the men sat next to Rampersaud on the bench and this prompted Seeranie to get up and stand at the side. She said the other two then stood in front of them, both brandishing rifles that appeared to be AK-47s. Seeranie said the men had their guns trained on them but for one moment she thought it was just a joke, because one of the gunmen had a smile on his face, while the other laughed. It was shortly after this the smiling one pulled his trigger and shot Rampersaud in his chest. The shooter walked westward into Enterprise, while the other two joined their other accomplices and headed in the direction of Bare Root. Seeranie said she was left shellshocked, but managed to see Rampersaud clutching his chest as she stumbled to the corner. She said she ran off thinking that the gunmen were coming after her but only got a short distance before she turned back. According to her when she looked back Rampersaud had collapsed on the ground and she called out the neighbourhood with her screams. Rampersaud was then rushed to the Georgetown Hospital where he succumbed to his wound while receiving treatment. Seeranie said all of the gunmen wore hoods over their heads. She said they also attempted to rob a car which had passed while she and Rampersaud were sitting on the bench but the driver did not slow down.

Meanwhile, police said from all appearances the gunmen were the said group, which carried out two earlier robberies in Non Pareil. The first robbery was around 7 pm at Lot 294 Section 'B' Non Pareil. This was at the home of Jankie Persaud, whose husband operates a lumberyard and a hardware store. Following the robbery on Persaud the bandits entered a mandir and demanded cash and jewellery from worshippers. They did not get much at the mandir and as such they moved across to Persaud where they confronted her and her two children in the lower flat of their house. According to the police, the men entered the house through a window. Once inside they tied up the woman and her children and escaped with $1.2M cash along with jewellery. The bandits also collected other articles including a generator. They discharged a few shots while escaping, but stumbled upon Robin Samsundar at Section 'B' Non Pareil. The 15-year-old was cycling home when the five bandits attacked him. He was relieved of his bicycle, $500 and jewellery. It was after the robberies in Non Pareil that the bandits went to Enterprise.

Meanwhile, yesterday the police intensified their patrols on the East Coast of Demerara. While investigators were busy combing Bare Root for the killers, mobile patrols were seen in the villages of Coldingen, Melanie Damishana and Annandale.

Residents of Enterprise said that it has been sometime now since bandits attacked them. One man said that the village has an active policing group, which went to work Thursday night after the killing. However, the man said that due to the relative calm in the village the policing group had not been doing nightly patrols. Villagers said that Rampersaud was a very quiet person, who was basically the village labourer. "He used to go to the shop for anyone and they would give him a small change. That is how he survived," one resident said. Others said Rampersaud would sometimes volunteer to clean trenches and drains. He leaves to mourn his 13-year-old daughter along with a cluster or relatives and friends. A post-mortem will be done on Monday.

Stabroek News