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Jul 7, 2016

Bullets and Bloodlust in Belize City: 3 Men are Shot Dead In Separate Attacks

Michael Lopez Jr.

A volley of gunshots broke the silence in an otherwise peaceful neighborhood within the Saint Martin’s area on Wednesday.  The fatal shooting would round out a bloody evening as three Belize City men were murdered a few hours apart.  Around seven-forty-five p.m., news quickly began spreading of yet another deadly spray of bullets.  The victim, identified as Michael Lopez Junior, was the target of two gunmen who tailed him to his home on Jones Street before opening fire on him.  His murder, though not related to previous shootings involving Tevin Palmer and Devin Parham, is believed to be a direct retaliation for a murder that occurred last Wednesday.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A week ago, a pair of unwary young men was gunned down on La Croix Boulevard, as they stood there talking to each other.  The hit, a deliberate attempt at cutting both men down, was partly effective.

Keiron Morrison & Kent Brooks Jr.

When the gunfire subsided, twenty-year-old Kieran Morrison lay mortally wounded.  A short distance away, eighteen-year-old Kent Brooks Junior was observed suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.  That calculated attack, according to police, only served to revisit a presumably quelled feud between rival groups in the Saint Martin’s area.  It would later set in motion a conspiracy to avenge Morrison’s murder.

 

On Wednesday night, a duo on motorcycle pursued twenty-two-year-old Michael Lopez Junior to his residence on Jones Street and heartlessly shot him in cold blood.

 

Shelmadine Jones, Sister of Deceased

“Ih mi come outta ih house fi gaan buy and when ih di come back da den di gunman dehn cohn pull up behind ahn and shot ahn from back way.”

 

Shelmadine Jones

Isani Cayetano

“Describe to me what happened in so far as what was told to you.  I understand that it was a pair of gunmen on a motorbike who were pursuing him.”

 

Shelmadine Jones

“Two gunman pan wahn cycle.  We noh really know da who but da two gunman pan wah cycle.”

 

Lopez’s attackers rode on this dark Meilun motorcycle.  As he stood there, just a stone’s throw away from his home, a volley of shots rang out.  Curiously, others who were present at the time of the deadly assault escaped without injury.

 

ACP Chester Williams, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“Sometime around 7:45 p.m., thereabout, police were called to the corner of Lawrence and Jones streets, that’s in the Saint Martin’s de Porres area, as information was received of shots being fired.  Upon arrival police observed one Michael Lopez suffering from gunshot wounds to the head.”

 

Mike, as most knew him in the neighborhood, was shot multiple times.

 

Shelmadine Jones

“When I reach hospital last night di injury da mi only eena ih head; wahn big hole eena ih head back.  Only eena ih head ih get it.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“And you’re not fully aware of the number of times he was shot?”

 

Shelmadine Jones

“Four.  Four times eena ih head.”

 

The wanton act of violence, according to ACP Williams, may have been retribution for last Wednesday’s killing.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams

“Police have since detained two suspects in respect to that incident.  The suspects were on a motorcycle and they were seen fleeing the area.  The clothing that the suspects were wearing at the time had bloodstains on it, or what appeared to be bloodstains.  So from an investigative standpoint we believe that the suspects may have accosted the victim and they had a struggle and during the struggle the victim was shot.  Hence the blood we believe that is found on the clothing of the suspects, we believe that it is from the victim.  So we are in the process of packaging the shirts that the two suspects were wearing and they’ll be sent to the Miami DNA lab for DNA testing.”

 

Lopez’s sister believes that her sibling was followed home after an incident on Mahogany Street sometime earlier.  Is the murder gang-related?

 

Shelmadine Jones

“Well dis mawnin I hyah dat dehn seh ih mi ketch eena sohn fight da di shop da Discount pan di Mahogany and we noh really know with who, if da di person weh ih ketch eena di fight with come back cohn retaliate or what.  But we noh know.”

 

Police won’t readily confirm Lopez’s affiliation to any of the feuding groups.  What is certain is that the enmity between the PIV and Backalands gangs is rearing its ugly head once more.

 

ACP Chester Williams

“We do believe it’s a retaliation for the shooting death of Mr. Morrison which took place in the St. Martin’s area about a week and couple days ago. The victim of that murder, from what we know, he’s not in any gang.  But again, the area that he lives has persons who are from a particular gang and we believe that it’s a situation where, if yoh cyan’t ketch Harry yoh ketch ih shirt.  It is gang-related from what our investigation is showing so far.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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