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Aug 11, 2017

Police: We’re Not Giving Up Tire Fire Investigation

In the wake of the disappearance of Teakettle resident Mark Mendez, who was found murdered in June, residents of the village got frustrated with the police’s response and set tires on fire on the George Price Highway, disrupting traffic for close to an hour. The department’s intent to investigate what happened provoked intervention from Cayo South area representative Julius Espat, among others.  But according to Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett, police are not giving up that investigation, even if they are finding it rough going.

 

Howell Gillett

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, O.C., Belmopan Police

“Sometimes we have to be emotionally smart. The people at that time believed that police were not taking action – but we were taking action; they misconceived that police were not doing sufficiently but we were doing what we were supposed to do. But the person was on the loose and I could tell you based on what I know that we had officers placed in many different areas to locate him so that somebody did that on their part; but there are consequences when you step outside. Emotionally the right thing would be not to charge the people, but if an offense is that glaring to us, we have to investigate and if we find that someone or some people were involved then we have to lay charges in the future.”

 

Reporter

“So you all will still pursue that investigation?”

 

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett

“It’s still an open investigation; for an offense like that it takes up to six months before it is closed; in the case of murder it doesn’t matter, we could continue to investigate for X amount of years.”

 

Reporter

“But for the tire fire, you mean, its limit is within six months?”

 

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett

“Yes, yes. But what we are finding is that it seems the people who are involved are related, and it’s difficult to – we can’t force people to come forward to testify and it seems there is a strong relationship amongst the people who were involved in the fire, so it is proving a bit difficult to pinpoint who were the persons involved.”

 

Erwin Santos, the primary suspect in the murders, is behind bars serving a five-year sentence for possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

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