Liberia: Man, 31, Charged with Murder for Attack on Crowd at UP Headquarters

— The alleged murderer is a CDC militant, court records show

Lawrence K. Williams, aged 31, who was accused of ramming a vehicle into a jubilant crowd of Unity Party supporters in Monrovia on the night of November 20, has been charged with murder, aggravated assault, and recklessly endangering another person.

The incident resulted in the death of three people and multiple injuries. The Liberian National Police stated that the man's actions violated several sections of the revised penal law of Liberia, especially Chapter 14, Section 14.1, 14.20, and 14.23.

Williams appeared in court on Monday, November 27, and was subsequently remanded to the Monrovia Central Prison by Magistrate Ben Barco, as murder charges usually preclude bail.

According to court records, Williams deliberately and without remorse drove through the crowd using an unmarked Grey Hyundai SUV, injuring victims along the way. He then abandoned the vehicle and fled on a motorbike to his residence in Cow-Field's last Junction community on the Duport Road, Paynesville.

“Defendant Williams was subsequently arrested at his Cow- Field last junction in Duport Road, Paynesville by the Liberian National Police,” the court records noted.

The court records also mention that an angry mob looted and set fire to the vehicle at the scene. The victims were promptly taken to various hospitals and clinics for medical attention. Williams was later arrested at his residence by the Liberia National Police.

The court records indicate that Williams is a supporter of President George Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and a member of its Militant Brigade, with which he has reportedly associated for more than two years.

Prior to the incident, Williams allegedly did not spend the weekend at his residence with his family, instead claiming that he was in Margibi County for a printing contract.

He however informed his fiancée Miracle Cummings and his Father-in-Law, Mr. Leo Cummings, that he was engaged in a printing contract with Bong County Senator-elect, Johnny Kpehe, and would have slept in Margibi County in accordance with the arrangement with Kpehe who had reportedly designated his Logistics Manager to make money available for such.

However, the investigation revealed that the printing contract claim was false. Williams admitted providing this information to his fiancée and father-in-law but denied having any contact with the senator-elect Johnny Kpehe.

“The investigation made contact with Hon. Johnny Kpehe at his residence on the morning of November 23, 2023, and he disclosed that he at no time made any contact with a local printer for printing contracts,” the records noted. “All of his electoral paraphernalia were printed in Asia, and more besides he owns his own local printing press on Benson street in Monrovia to do his domestic printing work and will have no need to engage any local printer to do printing work for him.”

The court documents suggest that there may have been a motive, possibly related to monetary or psychological gain, although the source remains unidentified.

“That the above actions by defendant Williams leave the investigation with the conviction that there was indeed a motive, especially of monetary and psychological benefit, which he must have received from an unidentified source he has selected not to disclose, that led to him executing said carnage on the innocent partisans and sympathizers who were jubilating on the night of November 20, 2023, at about 10:00 P/M,” the court records allege. “That the action of the defendant was intentional and total indifference to the value of human lives.”

The records also state that Williams encountered a crowd near the Unity Party headquarters while driving up the hill to Ducor. Upon descending, he claimed that a malfunction with the gear caused the vehicle to accelerate uncontrollably into the crowd.

The court records also said that while defendant William was ascending the hill to Ducor, he saw a jubilant crowd in front of the Unity Party headquarters and had prior knowledge that part of the road was occupied. 

It further alleges that upon descending, he accordingly parked to make contact with his fiancée, Miracle Cummings, who had been sending him “Please Call” text messages.

“After the call with his fiancée, defendant Williams started the vehicle which at the time he claimed experienced a malfunction with the gear which declined to shift but the vehicle, which is not a standard gear shift but that of an automatic gear shift, immediately accelerated with high speed, thus causing him to barge into the jubilant crowd,” the document claimed. “During the carnage, defendant Williams had the headlights of the vehicle off, and the front passenger door open, thus making it unnoticeable by the crowd of any approaching vehicle, as through the assistance of Witness Adolphus Cooper, the motorcyclist who took him from the scene of the incident to his residence in Paynesville.” 

Witnesses attested that Williams drove with the headlights off and the front passenger door open during the incident. The court records note that the collision resulted in the injury of approximately twenty-seven people and damage to property, with three victims ultimately succumbing to their injuries while receiving medical attention at JFK Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

“Defendant Williams also drove with terrific speed through the overwhelming jubilant crowd gathered at the front of the Unity Party Headquarters, from up Snapper Hill, Broad street with the headlights off and the front passenger door open, thus creating a serious carnage which resulted into injuries and the destruction of properties,” the court records said. “The massacre also noticed three of the twenty-seven persons succumbing to their injuries while undergoing medical attention at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the JFK Hospital.”