Police are on the hunt for a group of armed bandits who staged a movie-style hold up last Thursday night at the home of local supermarket owner and operator, Victor “Bread” Thomas at Hope Vale in St. George South-east and got away with a quantity of cash.
The bandits – numbering between three to four – struck at the home of the business owner who is also a farmer and known throughout the village as “Bread” some time between 7.30 and 7.45 p.m when both he and his wife were at the supermarket.
The men used a gun and knife to hold some of the family members hostage as they demanded the father’s money.
During the ordeal, one of Bread’s son, was chopped on the hand resulting in him having to be taken by police to the St. George’s General hospital where seven stitches were inserted into the wound.
When THE NEW TODAY visited the family home on Sunday night, one of the daughters, Jinelle who was held captive by the armed gun man said that she only became aware that something was happening when a younger sister aged twelve and a nephew who is around ten started to scream and run into the bedroom where she was sitting on a bed.
She stated that minutes earlier the dogs were barking and she asked one of the kids to look outside and see what was happening.
The youngster said that as outside was already dark he was afraid and did not look out.
The dogs continued to bark and make noise. Within seconds two of the bandits walked right into the house as the front door was not locked.
The children on seeing the armed masked men started to scream but Jinelle who was inside a bedroom thought that they were playing.
She said she soon realised that the situation was serious when the children ran into the room and one of the bandits armed with a gun followed them and jumped onto the bed where she was sitting.
She stated the bandit pointed the gun at her and yelled out, “Give me the money that you have, give me the money”.
Jinelle told our News Desk: “I had a little cash box that could lock so I was giving it to him. He said open it so I got the key and I opened it. He said that is not all the money you got. I said that is all, look my bag dey (pointing in its direction), you could search it”.
While all this was happening, the 12 year old daughter of “Bread” ran out of the room, passed through a side door to try and make it downstairs to alert her oldest brother (Denzil Thomas) who was in his room”.
As the youngster moved in the direction of the Verandah’s gate, she saw another masked bandit and decided to run back inside the house.
According to the youngster, the armed bandit who was inside the house holding the cutlass saw when she ran out of the room and had given chase.
As she turned back, he was up on her in a flash and locked her violently around the neck with one of his hands.
He asked the 12 year old, “Where is the money” and she yelled out: “In the room, in the room”.
The cutlass wielding bandit instructed the young girl to show him where “Bread’s money is and he pushed her in the direction of the room that belonged to the father.
The terrified girl who was still subdued told the bandit: “Look the money between the Dressing Table”.
He told her to take it out and she obliged by pulling out a pillow case where the father had placed some money along with other documents like bills and purchase orders pertaining to the operations of the Best Fresh” supermarket along the St. Paul’s main road.
The bandit grabbed the pillow case which reportedly contained between $13-15, 000 in both EC and US currency.
There was also some money lying in the open on the dressing table in the father’s bedroom and the bandit saw it and took it.
The bandit looked around the room and saw a box. He requested the 12 year old to empty the box then took it away from her to put the money that he had just robbed from the family.
The bandit with the gun pointed at Chinelle who was in a nearby bedroom asked her: “Where is your brother” and referenced to the one who lives in the downstairs of the house.
Not aware that the brother had come back from an earlier errand, Chinelle said: “He ain’t dey”, and the bandit asked the same question a second time.
Chinelle responded: “He ain’t dey, he does leave and go by his girl friend”. The bandit then asked about the whereabouts of her father.
She said: “I told him (the bandit) he was not there”. Like in the case of the brother, the bandit once again asked about the location of the father.
Chinelle responded: “He (Bread) is up in the shop selling meat”. The bandit then asked about the money.
“I told him I did not have any money and he opened up my father’s closet door and stated to search”, said the daughter.
Bread’s son who was downstairs in his room became suspicious that something was happening and came out of the building.
As he was making his way towards the verandah at the upper level of the house, he saw a masked man standing in front of the gate.
Denzel moved at a faster pace towards the person who upon seeing him ran away from the building and up a slope to the top of the farm operated by Bread.
The brother gave chase but the fleeing bandit managed to escape. As Denzil was making his way back down the slope to the house, he saw someone coming in his direction who resembled his ten year old newphew.
Denzel called the name of his nephew and when the person did not answer he became suspicious.
As he was approaching the person coming in his direction, he realised that it was another of the bandits.
He attempted to confront the man who then lifted the cutlass in his hand and made a swipe.
As Denzil swayed away, the blade took him on the back of his left hand and he realized that he had been cut. The bandit soon fled.
None of the family members knew how the bandit with the gun moved out of the house.
They suspect that a fourth bandit was behind the house keeping guard to make sure that no one came and interrupted them in their assault on Bread’s home.
An angry “Bread” did not hide his feelings when he spoke with this newspaper and expressed disgust with the treatment meted out to his injured son, Denzel who was bleeding from the wound and taken by the lawmen to the General Hospital for medical assistance.
With tears flowing in his eyes, the father said the son called back home to inform him that the hospital authorities were demanding the payment of $30. 00 before any X-ray could be done on his bleeding and injured hand.
Denzel did not have any money with him and the family had to dispatch one of the daughters to rush down to the hospital with the $30.00 so that the X-ray could be done.
The family is known to be strong supporters of the main opposition National Democratic Congress.
During the 2013 election campaign, the downstairs of the supermarket was used as the headquarters of Congress’ candidate for the area, Randal Robinson.
The family told THE NEW TODAY that on the daughter’s arrival at the hospital she discovered that there was an apparent change of heart and the X-ray was done on the injured hand without any payment being made up front.
The sister paid the $30.00 and was given an official receipt from the hospital.
Since the incident, Bread’s 12- year old daughter who is a student at a private school and is due to sit exams next month to begin her secondary school life, has been left traumatised and experiencing difficulties in sleeping.
Efforts are being made to get a Counselor to attend to the child.
Police have reportedly picked up two persons living in the Petersfield area of La Borie for questioning in connection with the armed masked robbery at the Hope Vale house.
A number of key items used by the bandit including masks and a scarf were recovered by the police as part of their investigation.
In addition, the lawmen also found a small quantity of the money that fell onto the ground as the bandit with the cutlass made his escape from the area with the box containing the loot.
THE NEW TODAY was told that prior to the attack on Bread’s home, one of the feared dogs in the yard was reportedly poisoned.
It is believed that the police have picked up information about an individual who had supplied the poison to a particular person who is of interest to the lawmen in connection with the robbery.