Killings justify SWAT team, strict gun control- govt, opposition

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 21:00 by GxMedia

A policeman taking up a strategic position at the scene of the Middle Street shooting

Even as the Home Affairs was using the killing of four persons by a berserk man to reinforce its move to establish a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, the major parliamentary opposition was calling for strict gun control.

The Home Affairs Ministry said it was “deeply saddened” at the “unfortunate” shooting of the two policemen and two civilians as well as the police killing of the man who went berserk.

“This incident reinforces the contention of this Ministry that there is a dire need for well trained Specialized Units in the Guyana Police Force to respond to similar types of incidents,” said the ministry.

That position came amid concerns about the police response to the incident on Middle Street, Georgetown between East and Thomas Streets. Observers also noted that a number of the policemen who had responded wore no bullet proof vests or helmets.

“We are now more than committed to ensure that the SWAT Team is established in the Force within the time frame stipulated,” added the Home Affairs Ministry. A United States company hired to establish and train the team is expected to conduct assessments of human resources and equipment before the commencement of training exercises.

For its part, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) heaped blame on the Home Affairs Ministry for Wednesday’s bloodbath.

“A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), condemns the Ministry of Home Affairs for its lax policy on gun ownership and control, and the resulting rise in armed robberies and gun crimes,” said the coalition which holds 26 seats in the National Assembly.

Opposition Leader David Granger was quoted as saying that that a big part of the problem was the rampant gun running; lax attitude to gun licensing by the Ministry of Home Affairs; and weak law enforcement by the Guyana Police Force.

He reiterated his call for tighter border security to prevent illegal guns entering the country, increase in the strength of the Guyana Police Force to bring it up establishment levels and improvement in the standard of training for members of the Guyana Police Force.

Those killed by Derrick Kanhai are Lance Corporal 20293 Michael Forde and Constable 18053 Sherwin Pantlitz as well Crown Taxi Service  dispatcher, Vanessa Vyphuis and an taxi driver, Bonny Paul. Police said Kanhai was subsequently shot dead during an exchange of gunfire.

Two handguns and one shotgun were found at the scene near Kanhai who was a gold miner and licensed firearm holder.