Guyana President David Granger is urging citizens to practice safety and precautionary measures. His caution came in the aftermath of a massive fire that gutted the Georgetown prison late Sunday.
Police, members of the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Fire Service responded to reports of prison unrest and fire at the prison. On arrival, gunshots were fired as they sought to prevent several prisoners from burning the facility.
Police say six prison officers were taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC). Odinga Wickham, a prison warden succumbed to gunshot wounds. Two officers remain in hospital in critical condition, and three are stable.
Director of Prisons press conference
During a subsequent press conference, Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels said the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were activated as events unfolded.
Samuels reporters at 4:45 pm (local time), he received phone calls about a fire at the prison. Another report indicated a prison officer was taken hostage and guns were being fired.
The fire started at the two locations on the compound simultaneously. According to Samuels from “his perspective two wooden buildings were completely gutted and the prison sports club usually used as a holding area was set on fire and destroyed.” The fire quickly spread to other buildings, but with the assistance of other agencies, the Evacuation Procedure was immediately activated. “This brought prisoners to a safe area outside,” Samuels said.
Two prisoners escape
The Director of Prisons, said two prisoners escaped and were still at large. All other prisoners were transferred to safe locations. He noted all procedures were followed after the disturbance erupted at the location.
President gives assurances
Meanwhile, President Granger has assured the nation that law enforcement officers are working along with joint services to recapture the prisoners who escaped.
“The government is acting quickly to ensure the prisoners are caught, but more important, that those prisoners who were previously accommodated at the Georgetown prison are kept in a secure place,” Granger said.
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