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Jul 11, 2016

‘Buzzard’ Executed in Predawn Attack

Kariem Hafiya

Another bloody weekend in Belize City has resulted in the murders of two men and a third person in critical condition at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  We begin with the shooting death of a popular watchman who was employed at the Bottom Dollar Store and at the House of Culture.  Kariem Hafiya was returning home from work on Saturday morning when he was ambushed by an unknown assailant who opened fire on him, killing him on the spot.  Why he was singled out by his attacker is a question that investigators are still trying to answer.  It would be the first of several deadly shootings in the Old Capital.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Well-known security guard Kariem Hafiya was executed during a predawn attack near his residence on Plues Street on Saturday morning.  Buzzard, as most people knew him, was reportedly on his way home after completing an overnight shift at the House of Culture.  Upon arriving at the rear of the property, someone emerged from behind and discharged a volley of shots, mortally wounding him.  Hafiya’s daughter, who asked not to appear on camera, recounts the ominous phone call.

 

Voice of: Roneisha Gentle, Daughter of Deceased

“I thought I was getting pranked, getting that call at around four a.m. in the morning.  You’re not yourself.  So to hear something such as that was very nerve-wracking.”

 

Hafiya had been injured to various parts of the body, having been hit multiple times during the armed assault.  He perished at the scene of the deadly shooting.

 

Lionel Smith

Lionel Smith, Friend of Deceased

“I learned of the murder officially yesterday afternoon.  I heard about the killing but I could have never connected the dots to say that it was Mr. Kariem Hafiya because I don’t know him to be an affiliate of any gangs or any other organization, in terms of any problem with rivalries and stuff like that.  I know Mr. Kariem Hafiya has had some little issues in the past, like everybody else, but I have never met a man that loved life so much as Mr. Kariem Hafiya.”

 

…then why would someone maleficently take that away from him?  Despite a number of theories in the wake of the early morning murder, Belize City police are yet to determine a motive.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“We are still trying to figure out what went wrong there.  Mister Hafiya has been in that area for quite some time now and if you recall, I think about two weeks ago he was robbed in that same area.  The perpetrator of that crime is currently in prison.  That is one angle we are looking at.  The next angle we are looking at is the fact that we have been made to understand that he had a dispute with a female and the female may have made some threats.  And so we are looking at those two possibilities as to what may have resulted in his murder.  But at this time, from what we are seeing, it doesn’t appear to be gang-related any at all because he is not involved in any gang.  And while we might have an idea more or less who are the persons responsible, we are still trying to determine exactly which of the two motives could be more closely related to it.”

 

An easygoing personality and often approachable demeanor, Buzzard was a fixture at Bottom Dollar Store.  When he was not at work, Hafiya was often posted at the Baaba Shop on Orange Street where he would socialize with patrons awaiting their turn in the barber’s chair.

 

Kariem Hafiya

Voice of: Roneisha Gentle

“I think everyone in Belize knew who he was whether it was through work, socializing or even through relatives because many people knew his grandmother so that’s how they ended up knowing him as well.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now you’re his eldest daughter, correct?”

 

Voice of: Roneisha Gentle

“Yes I am.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Talk to us about him being your father and your interactions with him and that sort of stuff.”

 

Voice of: Roneisha Gentle

“Well, we had a very close relationship.  Like any other mother/daughter or father/daughter relationship, we bucked heads but at the end of the day I was the closest to him.  Like I said, I was his eldest so we had a very good bond.”

 

That friendship also extended to Lionel Smith with whom he shared professional and personal ties for a number of years.

 

Lionel Smith

“I came to know Kariem Hafiya like approximately four years ago and last year, early last year January, he approached me with the, well I shared a concept of mine with him in regards to getting a youth organization started off the ground.  And he was very excited about the concept and we decided to come together with a few other people who are now members of the little executive board that we have and we voted for Kariem Hafiya to stand in as our youth facilitator and we had been doing a couple things in the Yarborough area last year.  Now we have been kind of dormant for the last six or seven months.  We just spoke last week with regards to trying to reactivate the program for this coming summer season.”

 

Regrettably, that initiative won’t resume with the help of Kariem Hafiya.

 

Voice of: Roneisha Gentle

“Everything is clear cut and who did it, they know who they are and at the end of the day, all we can do as his family is to stay strong.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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