Terror at Brickdam Police Station
Ex-TSU rank shoots two cops dead, wounds two others
By Shawnel Cudjoe and Ruel Johnson

The mother, daughter and wife of Lance Corporal Ramnarine Lachana are consoled by a Police Officer.
A former Policeman went on a shooting spree in the compound of the Brickdam Police Station just after midday, yesterday leaving two of his former colleagues dead and wounding another two.

Brandishing a handgun wrested from one of his victims, Solomon Elijah Blackman, formerly of the Tactical Service Unit (TSU) of the Guyana Police Force, went on a rampage at the Brickdam Police Station, in an incident that is eerily evocative of the workplace shootings by postal employees a decade ago.

Dead: Assistant Superintendent Griffith

Mrs Pamela Griffith, wife of slain Assistant Superintendent Richard Griffith, at the Georgetown Hospital after learning of her husband’s death.
Dead are Assistant Superintendent of Police Richard Griffith and Lance Corporal Ramnarine Lachana. Corporal Clifton Nelson is currently under care in the High Dependency Unit of the Georgetown Hospital.

Two Constables, Kester Cosbert, the first person to be shot by the assailant, and Royston Paddy, who was injured while jumping through a window in a bid to escape the onslaught, were treated by medical personnel and sent home.

Blackman, who was brought down in his murderous rampage only when another Policeman shot him in the thigh, is under Police guard at the hospital.

Sequence of Events
The Chronicle learnt that Blackman entered the compound of the Brickdam Police Station sometime after noon apparently to make a report. Moments later, in what appeared to be a surprise attack, Blackman, who had a soft drink bottle in his hand, struck Constable Kester Cosbert, who at the time was on sentry duty. He then, relieved the Constable of his holstered service revolver.

A sullen, but subdued Solomon Blackman arrives at the Georgetown Public Hospital in a Police vehicle after killing two Policemen and wounding another two at the Brickdam Police Station.
According to traumatised eyewitnesses, Blackman then shot Cosbert once in his right leg. He then proceeded to the lockups area, where he shot Corporal Lachana in the head. With Police officers and ranks taken aback with surprise and shock, Blackman then moved to the Enquiries Office, where he shot Corporal Nelson in the abdomen and shoulder. The berserk ex-cop then ran over to the Traffic Office where he shot Assistant Superintendent Griffith twice.

By this time, pandemonium had broken out in the Station and screams of pain and dismay filled the air.

Eyewitnesses explained that the terror and confusion eased somewhat after a Policeman shot Blackman in the thigh and pulled the revolver out of his hand. The ordinary activities of the Police Station were temporarily halted and the area in front of the Station cordoned off as the cops set about getting their wounded comrades to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

And in another wry twist of fate, the vehicle transporting the mortally wounded Griffith to the hospital collided with another car, which reportedly ran a stoplight at the corner of Middle and Camp Streets.

Tension was high at the Brickdam Police Station yesterday with visibly upset officers milling around inside the compound and vehicles scuttling in and out. Long after 14:00 hrs, scores of curious onlookers still thronged the grass verge outside the Station exchanging bits of information and expressing astonishment over the tragedy.

Georgetown Hospital scene
The scene at the emergency department of the Georgetown Hospital yesterday afternoon was far more chaotic than that at the Brickdam Police Station. Grim-faced Policemen wearing helmets and flak jackets and with their weapons at the ready moved in and out of the building, while another band of curious lookers tried to glean as much as they could of the conditions of the injured lawmen.

Lachana’s mother, his wife Rohini and his 12-year-old daughter were the first members of the victims’ families to arrive at the GPHC.

When the news of Lachana’s death reached them, they began to weep uncontrollably as by-standers looked on with deep sympathy. The Lachanas then demanded to see the body of their loved one. They were taken away in a Police vehicle shortly afterwards.

A very solemn atmosphere prevailed at the home of the dead Lance Corporal when the Chronicle visited later yesterday.

His wife, who was obviously and understandably distraught, refused to have any lengthy conversations with the media.

She however said that her husband was 39 years old and was the father of one, 12-year-old Samantha, a student of the Brickdam Secondary School. Lachana joined the Police Force in 1988.

When Griffith’s wife arrived at the hospital, she was informed that her husband had been shot and was in a critical condition.

Unfortunately, Griffith succumbed to a gunshot wound to the left side of the back and died as a result of blood loss at approximately 13:55 hrs.

When the news of his death reached his wife, she immediately began wailing and had to be consoled by relatives and other Police officers.

All efforts had been made to resuscitate Griffith, but they had failed, said Dr. Madan Rambarran, Director of Medical Services at the GPHC. Dr Rambarran was speaking at an emergency press conference at the institution later in the day.

He also noted that the staff at the hospital responded well to the emergency and were quite equipped to handle the situation.

Yesterday afternoon, when the Chronicle visited the home of Assistant Superintendent Richard Griffith at Lot 35 Middle Road, Mc Doom, East Bank Demerara (EBD), relatives and friends of the Griffith family had already gathered to offer their sympathy to his grieving widow Pamela.

Between bouts of weeping, Mrs Griffith, 49, explained that her 53-year-old husband had spent four months in the United States last year, and had planned to migrate to that country when he retired from the Force in a couple of months. Griffith joined the Police Force in 1969.

The father of Ian, 30, Griffith was described as a “nice man, who was always easy-going, and who was never involved in any problem with anyone.

Mr. Griffith said that her husband left home in a jovial mood yesterday morning to take his grandchildren to school before proceeding to his desk at the Brickdam Police Station. It was the last time she saw him alive.

The family lamented that is was difficult for them to understand how one man was allowed to cause such uproar and mayhem at the Brickdam Police Station.

Even as the Chronicle was speaking to his wife, Griffith’s sister-in-law, Ms Janet Thomas, arrived at the home, and upon hearing the news of senseless slaying, began wailing uncontrollably.

Friday, March 5, 2004