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Sep 26, 2002

14-year-old shot: accident or murder?

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Sudden death by gunshot is not a particularly unusual occurrence in Belize City, but a killing last night on Vernon Street has investigators trying to decide whether the death was a tragic accident or something more sinister. But with the triggerman still in hiding, there remain more questions than answers. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has more.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Residents in the area say around 9:00 on Wednesday night they heard a loud bang but did not know it was a gunshot… that is until minutes later when they saw fourteen-year-old Ashley Smith, a familiar face in the neighbourhood, lying on the ground, critically wounded from a bullet wound to the face.

Jean August, Aunt of Deaceased

“I just meet my nephew on the ground the lay down in blood, and like he di gasp fi (for) air, and he wash eena (in) blood. I nevah really ask who shot what or nothing, I just tell them, somebody just try call ambulance, somebody…we need help, we need help.”

Smith was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, but died shortly after he arrived. The incident is particularly tragic because Smith was apparently shot by his close friend, twenty-one year old Edwin Flowers.

Reports are that both young men were at a neighbour’s house on Vernon Street when they started to tug, opposite each other, over the front screen door. It is reported that while Flowers stood inside holding onto the door’s handle to keep it closed, Smith stood outside on the veranda pulling at the door to open it. It is not certain if Smith knew that his friend was holding a nine millimetre pistol in his free hand. Suddenly the gun went off, the bullet tearing through the screen and hitting Smith.

Doris Smith, Mother of the Deceased

“The two ah dem mi di play with the door, one di haul from inside and one di haul from outside.”

Jacqueline Woods

“And who was holding the gun at the time?”

Doris Smith

“Edwin Flowers, his friend mi di hold the gun. He mi got the gun, I hear he done mi tek (take) out the cartridge, but forgot one in the barrel.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Where was Ashley shot?”

Jean August

“Right at the right cheek, between the cheek bone and the nose. The bullet gone in through that and it noh really exit, what the doctor said, is I think the bullet travelled and get into the head and he couldn’t survive with that.”

Doris “Child” Smith says she strongly believes her son’s death was an accident. However, the police report implies that it was an intentional shooting. According to authorities, Smith was with some friends on the veranda when he started having words with Flowers. Police claim that Flowers then went inside the house and got his gun and then held on to the door to prevent Smith from going inside. Shortly after, Smith was shot.

The police have been unable to question Flowers because after the shooting he ran from the scene and remains at large. Today, Smith appealed to her son’s friend to turn himself in to the police.

Doris Smith

“I appeal to Edwin mek him come in because they dah mi (were) friends and I forgive ah, but I still want he come in come give up his self, because I know they dah mi best friend. Everything fi Ashley dah Edwin. Edwin come fi Ashley, if he di sleep he come wake ah up you know.”

“I know that it dah wah (it was an) accident because if Ashley eat, Edwin eat; if Edwin go eat, Ashley go with ah. So I know dah accident. If they have to ride one bike, they ride one bike. And I just want he come in before he haf to hide and they shoot ah. So I di tell ah, Edwin come in come give up yourself.”

In June, Ashley Smith graduated from The Friends Boys School and was in the process of being enrolled in the Youth Cadet Corp. Jacqueline Woods reporting for News 5.

Anyone seeing Edwin Flowers is asked to call the nearest police station.

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