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Aug 30, 2002

Police recount kidnapped victim’s details of attack

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Police investigations continue tonight into the brazen kidnapping of a Belize City businessman and his subsequent escape. Thirty-year-old George Herbert, a boat builder from Faber’s Road Extension told police that within an hour of his abduction, he managed to elude his captors unhurt. Details are still sketchy, but News 5 understands that after engaging in a wild shootout through the streets of Belize City with the cops and a civilian, a handcuffed Herbert was taken to a boat landing on the Northern Highway near Williamson Industries. There, two of the kidnappers got out and ran to where their boat was moored. Herbert says because his abductors were in a rush as the police were only seconds behind them, during the confusion he managed to break out of his bangles without their knowledge and when the kidnappers tried to get him into the boat, he made his getaway. At this point, it is believed the police showed up and the men were forced to leave Herbert behind. But this is where the story seems to have more holes than Swiss cheese. Despite the strong presence of police in the area, Herbert did not seek safety with them. He told the cops he bummed a ride from a passing motorist, who took him to Belize City and to a payphone where he called a friend to pick him up. But police sources tell News 5 that Herbert didn’t call them until six Thursday evening, a difference of over five hours since he was taken from his place of business. Herbert later went to the Queen Street police station where officers recorded his statement. According to Herbert, there were five men in camouflage in the truck he was transported in, armed with Tech 9s and AK-47s, but they did not say anything to him. At this time, no one is detained for the kidnapping. Authorities maintain that the precision plan was conducted by foreign operatives, possibly Mexicans, with assistance from Belizean counterparts. While the drug angle is still being pursued, police aren’t ruling out anything at this point. Because Herbert wasn’t shot on sight, authorities suspect someone wanted him alive for one reason or another. Tonight George Herbert is at home with his family. As for Sheldon Tillett, an employee of Herbert’s who rushed to his rescue, police have arrested him on charges of possession of unlicensed weapons and ammunition. Tillett was identified by eyewitnesses as one of the persons firing at the two Troopers, which had taken George Herbert. He was detained by the cops during the shootout and police discovered two nine millimetre pistols and ammunition in his car.

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