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Jan 16, 2017

The Impact of Grenade Finds and Explosions in Old Capital

A total of sixteen grenades have been discovered and removed from the streets of Southside Belize City. Most have been without incident, but there have been three explosions, two of which produced fatalities. More than eight years after the first instance of violent and criminal use of a grenade on Mayflower Street, Belize City, the presence of these deadly explosive grenades are triggering concern among the population, particularly on the south side. Aaron Humes traces the dark history of grenades in the Old Capital.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

At news time tonight, Police will only say that Saturday morning’s find of the American type grenade was made in an abandoned area, reported to us to be the St. Martin’s area. The Belize Defence Force was called in to dispose of it, as they have many others. On January third, the Gang Suppression Unit made a similar find in the Yabra area but left Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Eastern Division South, Chester Williams, to make the announcement.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Commander, Eastern Division South [File: January 3rd, 2017]

“I have just been notified by the Acting Commander of GSU that sometime around nine a.m. this morning, they discovered a live grenade in the Yarborough area.  That grenade has been taken into custody by the B.D.F. and they will be the one to dispose of it.”

 

Reporter

“Was anyone found in the area?”

 

ACP Chester Williams

“From my understanding, no.”

 

Reporter

“Can you paint a picture of the potential danger, I mean it’s live and there are residents in the area?”

 

ACP Chester Williams

“Well I am not a grenade expert and I think it depends on the types of grenades.  Different grenades have different capabilities.  So I cannot tell you exactly what would have been the possible effect of that grenade should it explode.”

 

Reporter

“Do you have any intelligence information as to where it might have originated from?”

 

ACP Chester Williams

“No I don’t.”

 

There have been two instances in which grenades exploded with deadly force on Southside Belize City. The first happened in May of 2008 on Mayflower Street, where teenager Darren Trapp was killed and eleven others injured. One witness at the time compared it, aptly, to the aftermath of war.

 

Annette Gentle

Annette Gentle, Eyewitness [File: May 19th, 2008]

“They deh pan the ground di tremble up yoh undastand? Dah like Iraq, wah war, dah like wah war. Yoh know how yo si man get blow inna explosion like Iraq? Daw wah explosion just wen the man when yo si dehn dah war deh pan di ground di pull like this like when somebody foot come off and thing and yo di pull pan di ground. Da mi wah ugly sight miss.”

 

The second incident took place nineteen months later on Kraal Road; fourteen year old Rudolph Flowers was killed and two others injured. The accused in these incidents – brothers Akeem and Kareem Smith and Lusby Martinez – were acquitted in subsequent murder trials. At least one other grenade detonated on Caesar Ridge Road in January of 2010, while others before and since then were recovered without incident, most notably one planted outside the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital a few months after the Mayflower incident on Carnival Day, 2008. But where did these instruments of urban terror come from? In the case of the two fatal incidents and at least two others, the stock used by British Forces in Belize. Two weeks after an explosion on Fabers Road in November of 2008, the Commandant of the British Army Training Support Unit-Belize (BATSUB), Lieutenant Colonel Peter Germain, admitted to this station that he could not explain how part of their stock went missing.

 

Peter Germain

Lt. Col. Peter Germain, Commander, BATSUB [File: November 27th, 2008]

“As far back as five years ago in May, 2004 there was another incident where some grenades were reported missing, again from BATSUB and again it was the subject of a police report to try and establish how they’d gone missing. Unfortunately, with the forensics and efforts to try and establish it, they were never able to work out exactly where they’d gone missing from given that they were stored in a secure compound. We weren’t sure whether they went missing in transit from the U.K. and no one was ever able to establish beyond doubt, where they went. So they were on the street and of course, have been for four or five years now. Well, the police have shown us the fly-off lever, not me personally, and the batch number that indicates on that shows that that was issued to BATSUB in December 2003, so that leads me to believe that it went on to the streets some time in 2004, through whatever method. It could be British, it could be a B.D.F., it could be a civilian; I just don’t know to be honest.”

 

While the search continues for those missing grenades, more recent finds are not of British origin, but American and otherwise. Either way, they have caused untold headaches for Belize’s law enforcement – and heartaches for the family of victims and survivors alike. Whether the most recent finds signal a return to the bad old days is anybody’s guess. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

In the Police’s statement, it extends appreciation to the individuals who it says provided the information leading to the recovery of the grenade. The Department also urges others who may have similar information to feel free to contact the nearest police station or call 911 in order to rid our streets of these deadly weapons.

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