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May 10, 2018

CitCo H.R. Director’s Vehicle Firebombed; She Says Arson is Linked to Tuesday Terminations

This week’s firings at City Hall have ignited a political firestorm that has morphed into a potentially dangerous situation.  A vehicle belonging to a high ranking official at City Hall was torched on Wednesday night. From all accounts it was politically motivated. Sharlene Rudon was in bed at home in the Kings Park area of the City, when an explosion at about eleven o’clock woke her up and rocked the neighbourhood. Rudon would then discover that a Molotov cocktail had been hurled at her Ford Escape parked in front of her house. The city official on Tuesday had signed letters terminating six employees in her capacity as Human Resources Manager.  Threats on social media escalated into the bombing of her vehicle, leaving Rudon shaken up. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

On Tuesday, Director of Administration Sharlene Rudon, responsible for human resources at City Hall, carried out an instruction given to her by Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner.  In following that order, six letters bearing her signature were delivered to select employees, including City Administrator Candice Miller and Sanitation Coordinator Cecil Jenkins, terminating their services forthwith.  The firings, according to the Belize City Council, were part of an overall restructuring exercise undertaken by the new municipal government.

 

On the Phone: Sharlene Rudon, Arson Victim

“The letters went out.  In my capacity as Director of Administration for Human Resources, that’s a part of my duties and my responsibilities to do these things if I am given a directive to do so.  And immediately after the letters went out I was viciously attacked on social media.”

 

Someone among those that were dismissed on Tuesday may have decided to take matters into their own hands, amid widespread speculation that the firings were all politically motivated.  That individual saw to the torching of Rudon’s vehicle, a black Ford Escape, on Wednesday night.

 

On the Phone: Sharlene Rudon

“I was sleeping and I was awakened and I, when they called out to me, when I looked through my window I saw that the vehicle was on fire, the bonnet part of the vehicle was on fire and basically I ran outside and I was told to call the fire engine and I dialed 911 and I did that.  Of course, they came along with, [the] police came shortly after and after that happened, you know, my brother and the neighbor, they, with a hose, they tried to out the vehicle and that was done and the police they found underneath the vehicle, I think they refer to it as a cocktail.”

 

The sports utility vehicle had been firebombed using a Molotov cocktail.

 

Alejandro Cowo

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Eastern Division

“Sometime after eleven, police visited number ten 4th Street, Kings Park where they spoke to a female by the name of Sharlene Rudon.  She reported to police that whilst at their residence they heard a noise coming out from their vehicle and upon inspection they noticed that the front portion of the vehicle was engulfed in flames.  The fire was managed to be contained and as a result it sustained minor damages to the vehicle.  What we have gathered so far is that the vehicle was parked there and two persons apparently threw a bottle with some accelerant that caused the fire to the vehicle.”

 

According to Rudon, an explosion outside of her house was what alerted neighbors that something was taking place next door.

 

On the Phone: Sharlene Rudon

“There was a bomb sound, right, and that’s when the neighbors came out, just to see what was happening, and then they saw the individuals, you know, running from the scene of the crime.”

 

The recent events that have been taking place at City Hall, particularly over the last seventy-two hours, may have resulted in this deliberate act of arson.  Rudon is certain that it is a consequence of the terminations.

 

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that this had anything to do with your signature being affixed on these termination letters?”

 

On the Phone: Sharlene Rudon

“More than likely it has to do with that Isani, because I haven’t had any problems with anybody in the past or anything like that.  The letters of termination went out on Tuesday and then this happened last night.  But even so, and I think I need to mention this, that when the letters they went out, I got a directive and the letters went out and immediately the afternoon, I mean on social media, there was one individual that really blasted me on social media the entire afternoon, just personally attacked me with a lot of untruth and nasty vicious things on Facebook.  Then last night this happened, and this person that attacked me viciously was somebody who was affiliated with the United Democratic Party.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

Late this evening, the Belize City Council issued a release in which it says the incident was “clearly a deliberate and dangerous act of arson, and there can be no doubt that it is directly related to the recent restructuring of the council which has resulted in the termination of five employees. The council condemns this reprehensible act which we view as no less than domestic terrorism, carried out no doubt by an agent or agents acting on behalf of one or more of the persons terminated.” The release ends by saying that the council believes that there is a direct link between the attack on her via social media and Wednesday night’s destruction of her vehicle.

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