Guyana police probe shooting deaths of two prisoners
Georgetown – Investigations are continuing into Saturday’s attempted prison break that resulted in the deaths of two inmates and injuries to five others.
The riot occurred after Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony were forced to exit the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara on Saturday afternoon after some prisoners became hostile and threw missiles.
The situation deteriorated and resulted in prison officers shooting seven inmates who tried to escape, resulting in the deaths of two of them.
The dead prisoners have been identified as 51-year-old Earl Graham and 21-year-old Winston Herbert.
In a statement, the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) said that Graham was serving a three-month jail term for malicious wounding, assault and resisting arrest while Herbert was in custody for rape.
The GPS said that the five other inmates are in a stable condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital and at the Lusignan Prison.
According to the statement, the prisoners, who had refused to have breakfast on Saturday, refused to engage the administrators and demanded to see the Minister of Home Affairs.
“This standoff continued unto 12:30 hrs but when attempts were made to distribute the midday meal the prisoners continued their refusal and increased their demand to see the Minister,” the statement said, adding that Ministers Benn and Anthony later visited the Holding Bays and met with some of the prisoners.
“Concerns surrounding extensive timelines between court hearings and remand, among other issues, were raised with the ministers who committed to address those within their scope but also informed the prisoners that the ability to address the issues within the remit of the courts was outside their authority but would be brought to the attention of those with those responsibilities.
“The issue of overcrowding and the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic, due to recent positive test returns amongst inmates, were also raised.”
The GPS said that following the discussions with the ministers, some prisoners “became aggressive and began throwing missiles which caused the Ministers to end engagement and exit the confines of the compound”.
“After the ministers exited the main gate, the situation rapidly degenerated and became riotous with some prisoners scaling the inner fence of the holding bay, thus entering the restricted area, and launching attacks on the prison officers within the compound who had to flee to safety.
“After the officers left the main compound, the situation rapidly deteriorated into mass disorder with inmates rushing the main gate in a bid to break same.”
The statement noted that prison officers posted within the towers discharged several shots in the general direction of the gate which “resulted in the injury of seven inmates and restoration of relative calm to the situation”. (CMC)