BARELY TWELVE days after his arrest, the Ashanti Region's most notorious armed robber, Eric Alfred Zieme, otherwise known as Kumasi Ataa Ayi who confessed to killing most of his victims in over 30 robberies, has been shot.
Zieme, aka Lone Ranger, 25, a native of Kusele near Nandom in the Upper East Region, was shot in the left thigh yesterday at about 6am when he, in the company of about 10 armed police personnel, attempted to escape.
The suspect was said to have broken the handcuffs which the police had thought were secure enough to prevent him from escaping.
Briefing journalists on the incident, the crime officer of the Ashanti Regional Police Command, ACP Bright Oduro, said the police suspected that the suspect had tempered with the shackles while in cells.
Although the police are yet to investigate the latest development, the crime officer said preliminary investigations pointed to the fact that the lone gunman had, with the connivance of his cell mates, broken the handcuffs and mended them with rope so he could break them and escape at the appropriate time.
It is believed that Zieme, who in another criminal case had introduced himself as Eric Muriyi, hatched the plan to abscond when the regional crime officer at an earlier briefing stated that the suspect would be taken to the various places where he had robbed people to assist in police investigations.
ACP Oduro noted that at about 4am yesterday, the suspect was sent to Tafo and Suame, both suburbs of Kumasi as well as Barekese, a community near the Garden City for investigations.
On reaching Fofo, a village on the Barekese road, Zieme, who had been cooperating with the police in their investigations since his apprehension, advised that the police park their vehicles on that portion of the road and walk because they could not drive to their destination.
As the police vehicle stopped, the security capo said Zieme jumped out, broke the handcuffs and ran into the bush so the police shot him in the left thigh to incapacitate him.
At the time of filing this report, Zieme was receiving treatment at the intensive care unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi under tight security.
Meanwhile, a source close to the hospital has told DAILY GUIDE that the suspect has been chained to his bed with some personnel of the Buffalo Unit of the police guarding him.
The suspect had already been arraigned and remanded in prison custody to reappear at a later date.
The Regional Police Command had described Zieme's arrest as a major breakthrough in the fight against violent crime in the region.
Probes into the background of the lone gunman unearthed litany of deadly robbery operations using an AK 47 assault rifle he purchased at ¢7 million.
He went into a frenzy of armed robbery operations after a court had granted him bail in a theft case.
Eric, an ex-convict, was standing trial on a number of stealing cases before he was busted on November 1, 2007 at the premises of his thriving supermarket, restaurant and washing bay complex at the Kumasi Race Course.
From James Quansah, Kumasi