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Apr 30, 2003

Grocer clings to life; gunmen still at large

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Belizeans as a society are a fairly complacent people…so while gang bangers kill each other with regularity and Chinese shopkeepers are gunned down with seeming impunity, the public takes it with hardly a shrug. But with last night’s point blank shooting of a well-known grocer in King’s Park, the forces of criminal anarchy may have gone too far.

Oscar Rosado, Manager, Rosado’s One Stop

“It’s bad enough for them to come and thief yu, but to come and shoot you for your own stuff, and look how hard he has worked.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

Sentiments shared by many Belizeans tonight in response to the shooting that took place early Tuesday evening at Godfrey’s Store on Sixth Street. According to the family, just after six p.m., owner and manager, seventy-five year old Alvin Godfrey, was manning his counter when two armed men attempted to rob him. It is unclear exactly what words were exchanged…but in front of customers in the store, some of them young children, one of the robbers pulled out a gun and shot Godfrey at close range in the face.

The bullet entered the right side of Alvin Godfrey’s cheek, went through his neck and then lodged itself to the back of the head. Fortunately, it missed the brain, the spine and major arteries. Today, Godfrey’s condition is listed as critical, but stable. News 5 understands that plans are being made to have him transported to the United States for medical treatment there…But tonight his attackers are still on the run.

The gunman and his accomplice left the store with nothing but blood on their hands, calmly picked up their bicycles and rode down the street. Witnesses tell News 5 that the gunmen had been seen in the area for as long as a week before the incident.

Reports that agree with statements made by Oscar Rosado, the store manager of Rosado’s One Stop, located adjacent to Godfrey’s.

Oscar Rosado

“We were kind of expecting something like this to happen to us. Before, in the mornings, as soon as we would come in, we’d have these three guys come to the store. When we close, they are right here. They are by my vehicle when I leave at night, I have to ask them excuse me. But the police said, when we call them, that if they really haven’t said anything or done anything, they just can’t pick them up like that. But that’s the concern that I’ve been having all week, expecting something like this to happen, but not to Mr. Godfrey, we thought it would be us.”

Alvin Godfrey first opened his shop in the late 1970s and for more than two decades has served customers from all over the city. Today, the closed doors were an unusual sight.

Janelle Chanona

“For hundreds of Belize City residents, Godfrey’s was an institution and this latest act of violence has left entire neighbourhoods traumatized.”

Oscar Rosado

“When Rosado’s bakery was in existence, he was one of my customers. He was always someone I know to be respectable; I always looked up to Mr. Godfrey. Many people around here, the neighbours, customers, give Mr. Godfrey the utmost respect, he’s a very respectable man, that’s what I can say about him: dignified and respectable.”

According to the police, they are looking for two suspects in connection with Tuesday night’s shooting. The department believes money was the motive.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer

“Many of these incidents we believe are directly related to drugs, we believe that people go out there and rob, not to feed their families, but in fact to support a habit. There are many of our young people out there turning into crack-heads. There are many young people in jail, I believe it was something like seventy-five percent in the last statistics that was released, drug related incidents. So certainly we have to understand the effect drugs has on our society. The police is aware of this and are now trying to deal with this and cracking down on the people who are involved in spreading drugs on our streets.”

Janelle Chanona

“So you think that was the motive for the attack on Mr. Godfrey yesterday?”

G. Michael Reid

“At this point that’s pure speculation. Certainly we are in the preliminary stage of that investigation. I don’t want to speculate there, but certainly we believe that we will get to the bottom of this. We have a couple suspects that we are looking after, but we certainly are concerned that these incidents are happening with such regularity and certainly again, we believe that many are drug related.”

Godfrey was flown out of this country today for advanced medical care.

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