Fire Chief Marlon Gentle has testified that anything could have happened during the Camp Street Prison riot – citing the possibility of a major prison escape at the principal penal center in Guyana.
Gentle made the statement while giving testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into the Camp Street Prison disturbances on Wednesday.
He was one of three officials that testified at the CoI.
The career fireman told the Commissioners that “the situation was very tense and there was potential for anything to happen…persons breaking out of their cells even a major jail break.”
He related that responding to situations like the one that engulfed at the Camp Street Jail could have a flipside that would see first respondents and other quickly becoming the victims by way of hostage taking on the part of inmates.
“When I ventured into the prison compound to make contact with the director I was verbally abused…I was spitted on especially when I was passing an areas they call the cave…I took another route for my own safety and not to agitate the prisoners any further,” said Gentle who was adamant that “anything could have happened then.”
Another Fire Officer, Garfield Benjamin described the scene at the dorms as a gruesome recounting that the fires were concentrated at the doorway to the dormitory.
“Well you could see that the prisoners were throwing bricks at us trying to stop us from doing our jobs…I couldn’t really estimate how many but it was a lot,” Benjamin testified.
He was also questioned as to whether any training that we would have received during his 20 years at the Fire Service would have prepared him for the environment at the riot and responded in the negative.
“We never had an actual stuff like this happen. We went and do a mock drill at the same location,” he said later noting “it was kind of gruesome.”