Gravy in hospital with gunshot wound

Renowned iconic cricket comic and vendor Laban ‘Gravy’ Benjamin, who was shot by bandits outside his home Thursday night, said the three attackers also beat him as they tried to grab his personal belongings.

The 61-year-old said he had just arrived home around 9:30 pm from the cricket match between Guyana and the Leeward Islands.

“I pulled up in front my house and as soon as I stepped out the car, they jumped on me. When they ambushed me, I started wrestling with them and they started beating me. I couldn’t tell who they were because it was dark,” he recalled.

The shooting victim said his screams for help alerted neighbours, who went to his aid.

“I was bawling for somebody to come help. People turned on their lights and came out and chased them away. But when they were running, they fired the shots,” Benjamin said.

He said he felt a stinging sensation in the upper body before realising he had been shot in the upper left chest.

Benjamin said the matter was reported to police, who came quickly, followed by the ambulance that transported him to Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC).

Having arrived at the hospital, medical staff X-rayed his chest to determine the extent of the injury. The results, Benjamin said, gave him some relief, as no vital organs had been damaged. However, yesterday, he was not certain when he would be discharged from the medical centre.

His only fear now is that the perpetrators might return.

“It’s the second time I’ve been targeted by thieves and shot. About six years ago, I was driving home when they chased me down on the highway and shot up my vehicle when I refused to pull over,” Benjamin recounted tearfully from his hospital bed.

The businessman said he was shot twice in the upper body in that incident.

“It’s frightening. I could have been dead. It isn’t fair for some people to be working so hard to put food on the table and others coming with guns to bully us for our earnings,” he cried.

The shooting victim thanked his neighbours for immediately responding to his calls for assistance and urged that they continue to look out for each other.

He also called on the authorities to replace the current streetlights in the area that operate on a timer, with lights that are on permanently at nights.

“When I got home, it was dark because the streetlights were off. The lights go on and off at certain times and the criminals know that. They were hiding right there in the dark just waiting for me. Tomorrow it could anybody else,” he stressed.

Benjamin became popular in the community when he began staging mini one-man shows at cricket games going as far back as 1988. He was such a regular staple at the games, his fan base kept growing, as did copycat acts. He stopped his shows in the early 2000s.

The police are investigating the matter, and are appealing to anyone with information to contact the All Saints Police Station, or call Crime Stoppers at 800-Tips (8477).

Up to press time, police said the three perpetrators were still on the run. Last night they issued an appeal to residents to call the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at 462-4913 or 462-3914 to report information on the incident.