‘It’s as if nothing ever happened’

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…Region Nine councillors on embattled REO shooting incident

… continued boycott of RDC meetings planned

Several councillors on the Regional Democratic Council of Region Nine plan to continue boycotting meetings of that local government body once embattled REO Karl Singh remains on the job.

Singh has been at the centre of a shooting incident in which he has been accused of allegedly firing several gunshots at 25-year old Gladys Benedict , a St Ignatius woman who was shot while in his company back in July this year.
Police reported at the time that around 11pm on 17th July, at the Commercial Zone, Lethem, the REO and Benedict were in a motor vehicle belonging to him when he shot her in the abdomen. A file on the investigations of the incident has been back and forth between the Guyana Police Force and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) chambers with the last known update being that it was with the police awaiting further investigations. After initially deeming the incident an “attempted murder”, the police later said it appeared “accidental.”

Karl Singh

But as the investigations drag on, members of the RDC who sit on the Opposition side of the council have boycotted several meetings in which Singh was present. This appears to have enraged Singh on at least one occasion when he questioned why the officials were not attending his meetings.

On August 25th last where the budget of the region was discussed, the councillors started their boycott of the REDC meetings.

Reports are that at that meeting, it was the first time the council met as a body since the shooting incident. The councillors felt that they had no confidence in Singh leading that meeting since he was being investigated by the police for shooting the young lady. “Our side of the council went and we stayed initially for prayers and so and we made a statement regarding the Clerk of Council {REO} and the chairman responded and said he had nothing to say,” a councillor said.

The councillors informed the chairman that the incident was a public issue rather than private as the chairman posited. It was then that the councillors walked out of the meeting. ”The PPP councillors all sat with the REO, so we guessed they had no choice but to sit there,” the councillor said.

Recently , as teachers protested the mandatory vaccination measures at Lethem, a meeting was being held by the RDC with Singh present. He has since sat in at several other meetings of the council, much to the annoyance of residents and the RDC councillors. The Opposition councillors noted that after the August 25th walkout, the embattled REO and his supporters have been telling persons that the councillors do not want to support the RDC but they noted that they do not think it is ethical for Singh to be at such important meetings with the shooting incident hanging on his conscience.

The business where the incident occurred is operated by a relative of Singh. The owner was never charged with breaking the curfew and it was alleged too that the REO was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. ”The guy is back on the job like nothing ever happened ,” the councillor said. It was noted by the Opposition councillors that they are willing to continue pushing for the development of the region and taking part in key decisions for such endeavours but they noted that they cannot sit in the same room with Singh citing the shooting incident.

Following the shooting , Benedict was taken to the Lethem Regional Hospital by Singh where she immediately underwent surgery. The REO was subsequently arrested and escorted to the Lethem Police Station where his licensed firearm was seized and lodged. The police have since changed their initial tone on the incident , stating in a subsequent release that the shooting appeared accidental.

The victim’s mother, Valerie George, says she will not accept any forms of compensation for her injured daughter until the matter passes through the courts.

The woman accused the REO of lying to her about what transpired ; she alleged that the 33-year old man informed her that Emmanuel was in his company when she was injured. But he told the woman that her daughter stabbed herself.

“He said yes, I was with her , I didn’t carry her out but I offered to bring them home, “ the man told the worried woman. George said the REO then informed her that her daughter “stabbed herself” and he alleged that he also had a gun in the vehicle at the time of the alleged stabbing. “That is the exact thing he told me at the time,” she said, noting that she was confused.

The woman said at that point she saw scratch marks on the REO’s left arm and she got even more confused since her daughter told her minutes earlier on the phone that she was shot.

George recalled that when her daughter was giving her statement to the police she saw a large mark below her neck from the chest up. The woman said she strongly believes that there was a scuffle between her daughter and the REO , noting that it appeared the two had a scramble.

A man who works with the REO subsequently visited the family and offered money but the family refused the offer.

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