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Apr 19, 2016

Police Remain on High Alert Following Murder of GSG Boss

Gerald “Shiny” Tillett

Police are being deployed in many neighborhoods on the south side of Belize City, as they brace up for any eventuality, following the murder of Gerald “Shiny” Tillett in Dangriga over the weekend. The George Street boss will be laid to rest in the days to come and it is likely that retaliatory acts will follow. “Shiny” took over the reins from his brother, Sheldon ‘Pinky’ Tillett who also met a violent death in April 2012.  But tonight, the shooter, Nicholas Swazo remains in the hospital under police guard and it is expected that he will be charged upon his release. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In the aftermath of a deadly spate of gun violence this past weekend, most likely the knock-on effect of Gerald “Shiny” Tillett’s murder in Dangriga on Saturday, the Belize Police Department is on high alert.  That heightened state of readiness remains in effect through to his funeral, on a date that is yet to be announced.  Meanwhile, Tillett’s alleged hit man, later learned to be Nicholas Swazo, is listed in stable condition after being shot in the back during the savage attack on Wadani Shed.  He is the fourth person to have been rushed for medical treatment at the Southern Regional Hospital on the night in question.

 

ASP Mark Stephens, Acting O.C., Dangriga Police

“Minutes later, a fourth person arrived at the hospital, identified as Nicholas Swazo, with two gunshot wounds in the back.  That was the upper right side of the back and the left lower back.  Initial investigation revealed that Gerald Tillett, along with Carlos Sharp and David Rodriguez were at the Wadani Shed socializing with others when one person, a lone gunman if you want to call it that, walked up to them, to the table where Gerald Tillett was along with the other two injured persons and he pointed a handgun in their direction and opened fire.”

 

As many as five shots were fired at point blank range in the direction of the seated men, multiple rounds finding their target on various parts of their upper bodies.

 

Voice of: First Eyewitness

“When I saw the man came in full black, I thought he was going to purchase something and just leave, [I] didn’t know he was coming to murder anyone.  It just seemed so normal, music was playing, there was gambling, a little dice, domino, usual.  So it was so frightening.”

 

By all accounts it was in fact a normal evening, a calm that was shattered by the report of gunfire.  The urgency with which Dangriga police responded to the scene of the shooting has been called to question by residents in the vicinity of the establishment.

 

Voice of: Second Eyewitness

“We called police, I literally called the police.  The police dehn tek like half an hour before dehn come but within da time di young man Sharp he di bawl fi help and the next young man di bleed pan di ground.  So di people around here who have vehicle dehn gather up and dehn tek Sharp and Shiny, dehn ker dehn dah di hospital.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Tell us a bit about the police response, I know, as you mentioned, you guys went to the assistance of the injured men.  In terms of the police responding to the scene after the shooting, what was that like?”

 

First Eyewitness

“It was like half an hour to forty-five minutes [when] the police came because about four people called the police and they took long.  When they came the two men had already gone to the hospital.”

 

While both witnesses, interviewed separately and in confidence, gave similar versions of sluggish police response, Assistant Superintendent Mark Stephens vehemently denies that claim.

 

Mark Stephens

ASP Mark Stephens

“I categorically rebuke that because that is so untrue and misleading.  That was never the case.  Police did not respond slow because that incident occurred about around 7:10 p.m. and before, long before 7:18 p.m., I think it was more about around 7:15 p.m. that the police contacted me and told me that they were on the scene and they had the scene secured.  So that person is a mischief maker.”

 

Despite the fact that police may have indeed been slow to respond, there was little that could have been done to save the life of the George Street boss.  At eleven p.m., approximately four hours after the fatal attack, Shiny was pronounced dead at the Western Regional Hospital.

 

Back in Dangriga, police moved immediately to effect a lockdown in anticipation of a reprisal.

 

ASP Mark Stephens

“We got other police who were off-duty to come out and work and at the same time communicating with my counterparts from Belmopan and Belize City because of the personalities involved, you know, it was obvious that there would have been a spinoff.  There was communication with personnel from our national headquarters and they made arrangements for additional support sent down here.  We were able to put up checkpoints just outside of Dangriga with assistance from Belmopan police and with additional support in terms of patrolling efforts because we had to, from the onset, lockdown Southern Regional Hospital because the magnitude and the amount of people that were at that location and the need for access for people with legitimate medical reasons wanting to reach that location, you know, so that had to be catered for.”

 

Nicholas Swazo

Among those persons with legitimate medical reasons was Nicholas Swazo, only his account of how he was shot twice to the back did not check out.  That story, as News Five has been reliably informed, has changed twice since Swazo was admitted for treatment.  To add insult to injury, the alleged shooter arrived at the Southern Regional Hospital bleeding from gunshot wounds.  The shirt he was wearing at the time of admission however, did not have any bullet holes.

 

ASP Mark Stephens

“We are conducting our investigations and we’re pretty much confident that at the end of the day Nicholas Swazo will be charged for murder and two counts of attempted murder.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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