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Oct 26, 2016

San Pedro Fugitive Shot to Death by Police

Juan Carlos Martinez

Belizean fugitive Juan Carlos Martinez has evaded police for almost a year, but tonight he is dead, following a shooting in the San Pedrito area of La Isla Bonita. Martinez was serving a ten-year sentence for firearm-related charges, but escaped from custody on the island on December fourteenth, 2015 when he was brought from the Central Prison to appear in court for a slew of violent crimes he had allegedly committed on San Pedro. He has been on the lam ever since, but overnight he was killed by police officers. There are varying accounts of what transpired just after ten on Tuesday night and News Five’s Duane Moody traveled to San Pedro and files this report.

 

Voice of: Resident #1

“All of a sudden, I hear a couple shots ring out first and my gial mi think dah pop shot. And I said no mien it sound different; it noh sound like pop shot. It start with like just slow shots first—bang, bang—and then it gone bang, bang, bang a couple times more. And then I neva want come out because directly shots still the fire.”

 

Duane Moody

“So at that time it was about twenty shots that you were counting?”

 

Voice of: Resident #1

“Between ten so—ten and fifteen for that time and lee while after that, mussi wah couple minutes after yo hear wah next barrage about five or six gone back to back. It gone bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Approximately twenty shots echoed in the distance from the lagoon in the San Pedrito area of San Pedro Town, says one resident, leaving families in the immediate vicinity traumatized, as the report of gunfire reverberated. Shortly after, the area was cordoned off by police officers, as bystanders poured out to the scene.

 

Voice of: Resident #1

“And then after that I see wah lot of mobilization outside. And when I come out and I look and I see the police and lot of people mi di stand by and the road was cordoned off and everybody was wondering who got shot.”

 

Inside this patch of mangrove is where twenty-five-year-old Juan Carlos Martinez, a man wanted by authorities, was shot and killed by police officers. According to San Pedro police, Martinez had been spotted on the island several times and managed to evade capture. But on Tuesday night, a tip led officers into the area where police say an alleged shootout ended in his demise. The incident took place just after ten p.m., as persons were retiring for the night.

 

Sandra Bodden

Supt. Sandra Bodden, O.C., San Pedro Police Formation

“Police visited a location in the San Pedrito area where they had received information that convicted prisoner, Carlos Martinez was. Upon arrival at the location, they identified themselves as police officer after surrounding the house and that’s when a fair-skinned male person ran out of the house and jumped from off the verandah into the lagoon. The police set chase after him and whilst in the pursuit of this male person, the police heard several gunshots being fired towards them. As a result, they returned fire and afterwards there was a pause of silence. The police then proceeded to the area where the shots had been fired from and that is where they discovered the lifeless body of the said male persons who they were pursuing, who they identified as Juan Carlos Martinez, twenty-five years unemployed Belizean of San Pedro Town.”

 

Martinez was shot multiple times to the body. But, there are other accounts of what transpired. The shooting took place within earshot of a person who lives approximately one hundred yards away. He says he heard the deceased call out for help before a brief verbal exchange with officers. Moments later, shots were fired and Martinez was dead.

 

Voice of: Resident #2

“I heard like eight shots and then I hurry run to the back of my house; I have a window there and I saw this guy swimming across the lagoon. Then like five minutes later the police was still looking at the other side; five minutes later, I heard this guy screaming, “Help! Help! I deh over yah. I deh over yah.” And then the police run weh di sound mi do come from. The police mi tell ahn make ih put ih hands up; then I heard the man say, “My hands are up, my hands are up.” and then immediately afterwards, the shots went off…exactly six.”

 

Martinez was convicted back in March of 2015 and was sentenced to ten years for firearm and ammunition charges. In December of 2015, he escaped from San Pedro Police while he was to appear before the court for violent crimes. He has been wanted ever since and was considered armed and dangerous.

 

Dezerie Phillips

Dezerie Phillips, Regional Commander, Eastern Division North

“He had been removed from prison to appear in magistrate court to attend court case for several charges he had before the court that include burglary, aggravated assault, robbery, firearm and ammunition offenses. So he was also wanted for the escape in December of 2015. And the prison term that he was serving had commenced in March of 2015 in Benque Viejo Town.”

 

Reporter

“In this situation, you would think that police officers are pursuing this individual, maybe you should shoot him in the leg, maybe to try and subdue him. How are these specific cases normally handled?”

 

Dezerie Phillips

“What is important for the public to understand is that this was a convicted prison; this was a convicted person serving a ten year sentence who had so many criminal matters of violence before the court. And the thing is that he was considered armed and dangerous so that is very important for the public to understand; it was not just an ordinary citizen, you would say, the police were pursuing.”

 

Both a criminal and an internal investigation have been launched to investigate whether excessive force was used by the officers.

 

Dezerie Phillips

“As in any case that pertains police involvement; this one is no different. The commissioner of police has directed that both a criminal and internal investigation be carried out into this matter and that already has been launched. And we want to ensure the public that a very in depth, thorough, transparent investigation will be conducted into this matter—both from a criminal standpoint and from an internal standpoint.”

 

Jorge Martin Martinez

Martinez’s father, who has been living on San Pedro for the past twenty-three years, says that Juan Carlos was a troublemaker. This is his second son that has been killed and there is a third, Sergio Martinez, who is serving a ten-year sentence for a burglary conviction.

 

Jorge Martin Martinez, Father of Deceased

“I know he was wanted by the law for a year now and I know he wasn’t a good boy and I expect anytime this would happen to him—not only by the law hands but by criminals. So it happens and I am not blaming anyone, but it happens. It already done; can’t get him back.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Police say eight shells were retrieved from the scene. But the firearm, believed to have been in the possession of the deceased, has not been recovered as yet.

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