Police kill Friendship man
Furious Friendship residents refuse to give up body
By Kim Lucas and Nigel Williams
January 22, 2003
A Friendship, East Coast man, Quincy Blair, was killed yesterday when police opened fire in the village slightly injuring several residents in the process.
Blair was the nephew of Shaka Blair, who was controversially shot and killed in Buxton by the police last year.
A police press release said 24-year-old Blair of Middle Walk, Friendship was a notorious bandit, who was wanted in connection with the murder of retired teacher Jainarine Singh at nearby Annandale last week Friday. Singh was shot in the head when a gang of gunmen, fleeing after robbing an Annandale store owner, fired into a yard. Blair had also been implicated in other crimes. The police did not say under what circumstances Quincy Blair was shot. The police and the army are engaged in intensified patrols following an upsurge in crime recently.
Furious residents of Friendship yesterday refuted any allegations against Blair saying he was shot simply because he was from that area.
Blair’s mother, Cheryl Profitt said she had last seen him alive yesterday morning when she left for work. Blair was a `block maker’ and helped to support his mother, brother and five sisters.
One of Blair’s sisters said she had just returned home from school, when she saw her brother walking towards the public road. He had apparently gone to purchase something to eat.
The young woman said that while Blair was at the shop, she saw him speaking to a young lady. It was then that she observed a police mobile patrol in the vicinity of Brushe Dam. Another vanload of cops was on the Friendship Road.
Blair’s sister said he spoke to the young woman for a while. She then heard one of the policemen from the patrol at Brushe Dam say, “Look he deh deh! Look he deh deh! Shoot he! Shoot he!”
The young woman said the police began shooting at her brother. Blair was apparently hit on one of his hands. He reportedly ran through a cross street, which separates Brushe Dam from Friendship Middle Walk, in the direction of his home.
Residents said one of the policemen jumped off the vehicle and pursued Blair, firing at least two more shots. They said it was then Blair ran into the yard on Middle Walk and sat down at the side of a house, bleeding. The young woman said that when she went to her brother, he asked her: “Oh my God! Why they had to shoot me?” She said those were his last words. He keeled over and died.
Blair’s sister said that after firing the last round, the policeman who was pursuing her brother quickly ran out to the street and returned to the vehicle.
Some residents of Middle Walk said an accidental discharge of a policeman’s gun might have triggered the first barrage of gunfire.
“Soon as he [a policeman] jump in the vehicle, the gun kick off. We see them pass before they shoot that boy. They had the army van and ‘bout four van go up deh and this silver grey [vehicle]. When the thing kick off, then the officer them start shooting. They feel is people shoot at them and after then they continue. When they drive out and go on the road round suh, they start shoot up.”
Stabroek News was shown what appeared to be a large bullet indentation in the parapet on the western shoulder of Middle Walk road. But others claimed that the confrontation with the police started “down at the back” when several homes were searched:
“We started to `boo’ them and they wanted to arrest a man...half hour after that they come back shooting.”
Some residents reported that sustained shooting from the police erupted before and after Blair’s killing. According to several residents, the police were shooting from two blue and white pick-up vehicles, a maroon four runner and a black and grey CRV.
A minibus operator, Andel Garnette, who was waiting at the corner of the street for his vehicle to be repaired, said some of the stray bullets shattered several of his windows. Another car was also hit in the melee.
The police, in another release last night, said following the shooting of Blair, there were two reported and one unreported incidents of damage to property and another incident where a noxious substance was thrown.
That release stated: “At 16:30 hours, a resident of Enterprise, E.C.D. reported that she was driving motor car PHH 44 east along the Buxton main road, when person or persons unknown pelted a brick, which smashed the front windshield of the car. At 16:40 hours, a resident of Company Road, Buxton reported that a neighbour threw a noxious substance (Bass) into her home, causing a burning sensation to the eyes and skin of her daughter. Shortly after, a resident of Vigilance reported that while driving along Company Road in minibus PEE 1044, he heard the sounds of gunfire, parked the bus on Company path and sought cover. On his return, he discovered the windshield broken. In the unreported incident, the driver of a Toyota Carina car was travelling along Buxton Public Road when someone pelted a brick, which broke the front windshield.”
Quincy Blair was arrested by the police on July 5, last year. The allegation was that the young man had beaten and robbed a Non Pariel housewife. Reports state that Blair had chopped the woman in the head, with a cutlass, which was left behind after the robbery. That matter was taken to court.
The woman had reported that Blair went to her home at around 7:15 that morning, robbed her of some $8,000 cash and $20,000 worth of jewellery. The woman said that her assailant dealt her several slaps and kicks about the body before chopping her in the head.
The police responded and cornered Blair in an abandoned house on the Strathspey Embankment. Following his arrest, a large gang from Buxton attacked residents of Bladen Hall and Strathspey, robbing and beating them.
When Stabroek News arrived in the village after the shooting, a group of angry residents were guarding Blair’s bullet-riddled body from the police. The dead man was covered with a sheet, and was still lying on the spot he was killed.
According to the police statement: “A team of senior police officers visited the scene, but were denied access to the body by a hostile crowd which had converged on the scene. The police officers were forced to retreat and a number of rounds were discharged at them, forcing them to take evasive action.”
The police said Blair was wanted in connection with the murder of an Annandale resident last Friday, as well as, a series of robberies on the East Coast Demerara.
“He was on court bail pending trial for a number of offences of robbery under arms and was scheduled to appear in court [tomorrow] on another robbery under arms charge,” the police said.
Blair was the nephew of Buxtonian Shaka Blair, who was shot dead in his home by the police last year April. It was his death that started the disturbances in the villages of Buxton and Friendship.
Among those who were forced to take evasive action from the barrage of gunfire yesterday were young children in their home, as well as some returning from school.
One woman said that her four-month-old son was on the bed at the time, when a bullet pierced the wall not far away. About five young children were watching television, when another set of bullets shattered the TV.
According to one woman, gunshots were penetrating her walls and windows from all angles. The house is situated near to the public road and Middle Walk, from where the police were said to have been shooting. She showed Stabroek News the bullet holes on the walls and the shattered window glass.
“We preparing for a `wake’...We [were] sitting out there, peeling provisions. The children were sitting in front of the TV...When the shooting start, everybody lie down and they start crying. The man in there, his shoulder get dislocated. While he running inside, he slide on the tile...This (showing the baby) is the youngest baby in the house and he start crying. He went upstairs on the bed and is only four months old....The thing [the bullets] go straight through (the wall),” the baby’s distraught mother stated.
In the upper story of the two-flat house, one woman showed this newspaper several pieces of broken wares. The mirror of the wardrobe in the room facing the public road, too, was pierced. The cabinet with the wares had several bullet holes and the bedroom walls were pierced, just inches above the mattresses.
“All my wares break up...All people wares. And when we come upstairs to see, we had to duck again, because this was the second set of shooting...and they not too long pass again and shoot up again. Everybody had to slide again,” one woman lamented. That was at about 4.40 pm.
Blair’s body was two yards away, covered with a sheet and surrounded by angry residents.
“They kill uncle, they kill this one now...All de Blair they want kill out,” a man remarked. Residents displayed wounds where they said they had been grazed by bullets.
“De gunfire start since about 2:30 pm, because when me din coming home, they [the police] did chase he (Blair). They chase he from Brushe Dam and he run through this yard here. He break the fence and run through and he run in here and sit down...They shoot him on the road”.
An old lady, a young woman and a two-week old baby were in the upper flat of the house in the yard where Blair was shot. That house, too, was damaged by the shooting.
“Them [the police] come back for de body and we lie down pon de body. They couldn’t move the body. An old lady was in there, and a young girl was there with her two weeks old baby. The girl had to run and hide in the cupboard...Another girl get shoot in she [buttocks]. I was coming through the middle cross street with my three-month old baby and one-year and three month old daughter and I had to lie low with meh two children them...I didn’t know they had a incident on the road. The girl [toddler] skin bruise up,” one woman reported.
At that point, one of Blair’s sisters arrived wailing. She collapsed on the dead man. His mother told Stabroek News that her son was everything to her.
The police and army recently intensified patrols on the East Coast following numerous attacks on neighbouring villages by gangs from the Buxton/Friendship area.
Broken wares: These wares were shattered by bullets yesterday.