GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday July 12, 2017 – The number of inmates who escaped during Sunday evening’s fiery riot that resulted in Guyana’s main jail being practically destroyed and a prison officer dead, has risen to eight – but half of them have not yet been identified.
Mark Royden Durant, also known as Royden Williams – who is on death row for the Bartica and Lusignan massacres; Uree Varswyck, whose alias is Malcolm Gordon Williams, and was committed to stand trial for the 2014 murder of a security guard; Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander, charged with the 2015 murder of a businesswoman; and Sherwin Nero, alias Sherwin Moses, all made good their escape from the Camp Street prison in Georgetown during the riot.
Another murder accused, 20-year old Shawn Collins, who had escaped while being transported with other prisoners to another facility on Sunday night, was recaptured in the vicinity of the prison in the early hours of Monday morning.
Officials say another four are still out there.
They say there were 1,018 prisoners registered at the prison on Sunday, before the incident. Of those, 980 inmates were at the prison at the time of the fire, while the other 38 low-risk prisoners were out of the prison on labour duties. Those 38 have all been accounted for, but in total, authorities have only been able to locate 1,010 prisoners.
The riot began after 4 p.m. on Sunday when inmates started several fires simultaneously in different buildings. Prison officer Odinga Wayne Wickham was fatally shot in the chest and several of his colleagues were also injured and have been hospitalized.
Following a national security meeting on Monday evening, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan sought to assure Guyanese that “we have gotten things under control”.
“We want to ensure that everyone out there is safe and that is our primary concern. We also want to ensure that prisoners are safe because they have their rights too, notwithstanding they’re prisoners, notwithstanding the bad behaviour of some of them. We are getting a number of them working along with us,” he said.
Some of the 1,010 inmates have been moved to the jail in Mazaruni while the majority of them remain at Lusignan where they were transferred following the riot.
“We are also in the process of getting Magistrates to be at Lusignan for the purposes of ensuring that those minor offences, those who were on bail but couldn’t afford it, make the arrangements for the granting of bail on their own recognizance so that we can shift some of them back to their homes,” Ramjattan had said.
He added that “a very complex set of arrangements” had been put in place to ensure the comfort of all the prisoners and the capture of those who escaped.