Prison Officer killed, six others injured in Prison fiery unrest
By Feona Morrison
Prison Officer Odinga Wickham succumbed to a gunshot wound to the chest and chop wounds inflicted on him by inmates at the Camp Street Prison, while undergoing treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), last evening.
His colleague, Hubert Trim, who was the Duty Officer at the time, is in a critical state having sustained chop wounds to the head. He was undergoing surgery up to late last night.
Up to press time Prison Officers Simeon Sandy, Errol Daphness, Drexel Gonsalves, Jason Maltoy and Dominic Mingo were also receiving treatment for either gunshot or chop wounds or a combination of both.
Keron Cummings, who escaped from the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court lock-ups in 2014, Mark (only name given) and Mohamed Potham, were some of the inmates injured during the fiery ordeal.
They too were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Cummings is facing robbery under-arms charges.
During a press briefing around 23:00hrs yesterday, Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels said there were no reports of fatalities among prisoners.
Samuels was unable to give an estimate of how many Prison Officers were on duty at the time. Reports reaching this newspaper indicate that the inmates disarmed Prison Officers and shot them. The inmates also used improvised weapons to inflict chop wounds on the Prison Officers.
As the fiery unrest unfolded at the prisons, several ambulances and Prison Service vehicles transported the injured Prison Officers and inmates to the hospital.
Security officials at the hospital cordoned off a section outside the Accident and Emergency Unit and monitored persons coming into the hospital compound.
Several Prison Officers and policemen converged at the hospital. Some of them cried as they recounted the heinous ordeal.
According to a prison officer, one of his colleagues was held hostage by a prisoner but miraculously managed to escape by scaling the prison fence.
Relatives of the injured rushed to the hospital but some of them were barred from entering the compound.
This started an uproar as relatives hurled derogatory remarks at security and police officers who bolted the gate at the pedestrian entrance. Persons however, sneaked into the compound when the guards opened the gate for the ambulances to drive in.
Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, who was present at the GPHC last evening said that the Emergency Unit is well equipped to deal with the situation since all medical supplies are in stock.
Minister Lawrence stated that adequate doctors, specialist and laboratory technicians are on board. “We have called out everyone. So the Emergency Unit is well equipped with the staff to be able to address the situation as it continues.”
In addition, the Health Minister disclosed that there are ample medical supplies in place and the hospital has already sought more suitor kits.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) acting of GPHC, Brigadier Retired George Lewis, said that an emergency medical centre has been set up in the parking lot of the hospital to help out.
“We are not overwhelmed and we won’t be. We have already contacted the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) to procure items for an emergency if a need arises,” the acting CEO disclosed.
Lewis stated that the Guyana Red Cross Society has also been called in for support.
Staff from a party rental company was seen assembling large tents just outside the Psychiatric Clinic for the emergency medical centre last evening.
President David Granger during a press briefing last evening extended condolences to the family of Prison Officer Wickham.