Recollecting their lessons from the 2002 siege of their community after the February 23 jail break (of that same year), and the negative attributes that it had brought upon the lives of many innocent Villagers thereafter, Buxtonians say that they are now determine to prevent a revival of siege on their community this time around.
Their resolute position was conveyed to local law enforcement and the Guyana Guardian after it became known that one of their fellow villagers, Mark Royden Williams, who was convicted on eight counts of murder, had escaped with a gang of three other murder convicts, following the fiery destruction of the Camp Street Prison last night.
Williams was sentenced to death after a jury trial last year had found him guilty of the murder of several persons who were slaughtered on the 17 February 2008, by a gang of men that was being led by the now dead Rondell “Fineman” Rollins.
The incident which became known as the Bartica massacre, had continued to be a source of contention among Guyanese, since several police officers were among the twelve people that were slaughtered on that fateful night.
Following the subsequent conviction of Williams and two others for the massacre, prison authorities were forced to monitor the convict after indications of a planned escape had reached their hearing.
Their fears were further aggravated after authorities had arrested a woman that is closely related to Williams, and at whose home a grenade was found. Authorities had claimed that the woman was planning to smuggle the grenade into the Camp Street Prison for the benefit of Williams.
However, police have now confirmed that Williams still managed to escape from the country’s main correctional facility last night after he allegedly started a fire yesterday afternoon in his cell block, with support from six other inmates who had simultaneously set fire to other locations of the prison.
Police further said that Williams and his gang subsequently secured a collection of firearms from the prison armory and used it to kill prison officer Odinga Wickham, in addition to grievously wounding several others.
The fire has since consumed most of the prison facility, and has now placed the State in a difficult position on many fronts, with government having to consider sourcing hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild a new prison, since no facility is available to house the current count of prisons that were housed at the now destroyed Camp Street jail.
Since Williams escape, police have carried out a cordon and search exercise in Buxton up to late last night. But several sources indicated that Williams was hiding out in the Sophia area.
Several sources have since claimed that a close female relative and two other persons who are said to be associated with Williams and who reside in Buxton, were arrested yesterday evening.
Police had said that so far the villagers are cooperating and have pledged to assist them with their manhunt where possible.
After the 2002 jailbreak which saw the escape of five men who subsequently took refuge with additional gang members in Buxton, the villagers were somewhat sympathetic to their cause after those escapees had claimed that they were politically victimized and were innocent of the charges against them.
However, the men subsequently lay siege on the village which they had used as a base to commit numerous crimes in other parts of the country.
Several young women were allegedly forced into sexual relations with gang members, while citizens who were uncooperative were either killed, or were forced to flee.
What was even more ironic, was the fact that more than 90% of the gang members that were in Buxton, had come from other areas of the country, including Agricola, Albouystown, and Sophia, just to name a few.
But even after law enforcement officials had liberated the village, and had killed most of the escapees and their gang members, Buxtonians were deliberately isolated from the rest of society, and paid dearly for their supposedly gullible attitude towards the criminals.
Employers and several arms of the state had technically refused to hire anyone who came from the village or its environs, while international travel became problematic, as immigration authorities in several countries automatically detained and questioned any traveler who disclosed an East Coast Demerara address upon their arrival.
Many Guyanese from the East Coast were forced to make false address declarations to avert any immigration problem.
And while the village took years to return to a state of normalcy, with Buxtonians now being able to secure lucrative jobs and opportunities in all sectors of society, many of the villagers are now worried that their community would be stained once again, even though they do not and will not support criminality.