Yesterday was a great day of training, for it was our culture day. We loaded up three busses, which look more like vans, and headed south of Georgetown toward the airport. After about an hour and a half, we arrived to a small cricket field and creek. The facilities were like what you would find at a summer camp: small huts, open dining all, and outhouses. But it was great for us.
We started the day by learning how to play cricket, the national pastime of the Guyanese. Of course, if we were to play a real game of cricket, it would last several days. So we only played for about three hours before we were all ready for lunch. During play, we had a few rain showers to keep us cool.
After cricket, we gathered in the mess hall for some Guyanese food. The staff did a great job preparing many local dishes.
Following lunch, we headed down to the creek for a swim. In many areas of Guyana, the creeks will appear quite dark. Not muddy, just dark. So much so that the locals call it black water. I thought the experience was much like swimming in a big pool of Snapple or chilled coffee.
All in all, culture day was a real treat away from our usual nine to four days of lectures and uncomfortable plastic chairs. I wish more of training was like yesterday.
Upon return to Georgetown, my host family said that had some action on their street earlier that day. Just a block away from where I’m staying, there was a car chase and shoot out with police and the Guyana military. My host mom Gale said she could hear the rapid fire of automatic weapons and the bullets rattle against cars and houses. This is the second car chase that has occurred on my street or the other street that I walk on to class everyday.
If you are interested in learning more about the whole story, I posted a copy of what I found in the Guyana Chronicle here for you to read. Always a reminder for me to be aware of my surroundings while working as a volunteer in a developing nation.
Cop shot in movie-style car chase in city
By Neil Marks
A MOTHER and her son miraculously survived a hail of gunfire from gunmen in a car who were fleeing from Police after shooting a constable in a midday chase around Georgetown yesterday.
According to well-placed sources, the brother-in-law of the woman is in Police custody, but Police Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald declined to name him when he reported on the incident yesterday, as the man has not been charged.
Police Constable Pareshram Khali sustained two gunshot wounds to his left leg and was reported in stable condition in hospital.
Stephanie Morgan and her young son were alive and well after the terrifying incident, but severely traumatized.
She was discharged from the St. Joseph’s Hospital where she was taken after the gunmen opened fire on her vehicle. Nurses there reported that she was in a frantic state throughout the entire examination process.
The Toyota Starlet that took her to the hospital was searched by the Police and a 9mm semi automatic pistol with seven live rounds of ammunition, a Rasta wig and a bullet proof vest were found in it, Police said. Morgan’s brother-in-law was reportedly the driver of the Starlet vehicle.
Reports are that Police on patrol in a vehicle around the city spotted HA 8561, a white Carina car and recognized one of the men inside as Quame Penbleton, who is wanted by the Police.
As the Policemen made eye contact with him, the men in the car opened fire and the Police fired back. This took place at Barr Street and Vlissengen Road.
Shooting continued as the Police gave chase, pursuing the car to Middleton Street and Durey Lane, Campbellville.
There, Police Commissioner McDonald said the bandits discharged several rounds at a pedal cyclist who was in the path of the car “causing him to fall off his cycle”.
Eyewitnesses said the men left the car and then a hail of gunfire rang out for about two minutes.
“All I see was a man with a big gun in the middle ah de road and I run inside”, a nearby resident told the Chronicle.
It was during this battle that Constable Khali was wounded.
The gunmen abandoned car HA 8561. According to the Police Commissioner, this vehicle was reportedly stolen during a robbery committed on June 26 at around 19:00 hrs at Fifth Street, Alberttown, Georgetown.
Two false license plates were found in the car. A black pouch and other articles were discovered in the back seat of the vehicle, Police said.
McDonald told a news conference at Police headquarters that “due to the presence of schoolchildren and other passers-by” the Police were prevented from returning fire.
The gunmen then hijacked a passing hire car at Middleton and Garnett Street and made good their escape. The driver of the car received a gunshot wound to his right side, McDonald said.
The gunmen next pounced on Morgan, who was waiting for the traffic lights at Mandela Avenue and Homestretch Avenue to indicate ‘go’.
According to eyewitnesses, the car with the four men swerved in front of Stephanie Morgan’s Prado land cruiser and opened fire.
Three of the men were at the doors of the car shooting, while the other, looking like a Rasta, got out of the vehicle and headed straight to Morgan’s Prado.
One witness said the men were wearing bulletproof vests marked ‘Police’.
The Rasta man tried to open the left side door of her vehicle but it was locked with the window up.
The eyewitness said the Rasta then used his gun to shatter the window but as he attempted to jump into the vehicle, the woman slipped into high gear, reversed with force, slamming into an ‘Uprising’ taxi behind her.
That taxi slammed into another hire car behind it, the witness said.
Morgan then made her way from between the taxi and the gunmen and sped off.
When her vehicle swerved, the gunman, who was attempting to jump into the Prado, was hurled to the ground, the witness said.
Morgan raced off into Homestretch Avenue and the gunman jumped into the car he had emerged from and they sped away.
McDonald could not say what happened to the Policemen who were in “hot pursuit” of the men up to after they sped of from the Campbellville area.
He said the first shooting incident took place at around 11:40 hrs and the hijack of the car in Campbellville, five or ten minutes later.
Indicating that he was not absolutely sure, he said the incident at Mandela and Homestretch Avenue took place at around 12:00-12:30 hrs.
“I am not able to tell you exactly where they (the Police) were, but I know they were in pursuit of the men”, he told reporters.
He said that another vehicle might have been involved in the incident but indicated that there is not enough evidence to support this.
McDonald reported that the Police have since erected several cordons around the city and have intensified their manhunt for the bandits.
“They can be anywhere, so we are searching (everywhere),” he said.
The Police Chief said he suspects that the weaponry used by the gunmen were automatic, semi automatic and those of “high caliber”.
Given that many taxis were involved in the recent surge in criminal activities, McDonald said that an encounter between the Police and taxi owners is planned.
“Even though some of those taxi owners have question marks behind them”, he quickly added.
The Commissioner again appealed for public cooperation and support in fighting crime, adding that the recent spate of criminal activities is “troubling”.
“As Commissioner of Police, I wish to assure you that we are doing all things possible to apprehend those who are bent on causing fear and terror in our society”, McDonald said in a message to the Guyanese people.