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Aug 29, 2002

Belize City man kidnapped; escapes unhurt

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All over Belize City tonight, residents are mulling over possible motives behind the latest crime to shock the community to the core. While we are used to seeing the bloodshed of murder, a brazen kidnapping in the middle of the day is close to unbelievable. News 5′s Janelle Chanona has the disturbing details.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

Tonight law enforcement officials continue to search for thirty year old George “Ricky” Herbert, kidnapped from his boat building business on Faber’s Road Extension. Residents of the area tell News 5 that at 11:30 this morning gunshots rang out, punctuated by the shatter of glass. According to police, moments before, three heavily armed men dressed in camouflage broke down the door and dragged Herbert outside and into one of two rented Isuzu Troopers idling outside.

The truck then took off in the direction of the Western Highway. Sheldon “Shiny” Tillett, an employee of Herbert’s, gave chase in this car. It is not clear who started shooting first, but armed with two nine millimetre handguns, Tillett fired several rounds.

Seconds later, the lead Trooper turned off the Western Highway into Western Avenue, while the second truck continued toward Central American Boulevard. Tillett stayed with the second one, careening through traffic toward the flag monument roundabout.

There the vehicles made an illegal left turn into the Northern Highway. The men continued to exchange fire, hitting at least two other motorists. At this point, police joined the shootout, but were no match for the hail of bullets from the AK47 and the Tech 9 assault weapons being used by the abductors, and one police officer would be hit in his ankle. The driver of this Ford truck was grazed on the right side of his face by one of the bullets.

Hubert Frazer, Eyewitness

“Well I was on my way to the city, me and my daughter and another friend. And upon reaching the overpass at the Belcan, I was waiting my turn to get into the lane to turn up Belcan Bridge and at that time I just heard a mirage of gunshots. After I pull my daughter down and I scouted the area I saw a green car that was shot up already. And the driver of the car didn’t go around the roundabout, he came cross illegally and apparently the traffic didn’t want to give him break to get at this Trooper. He started firing shots and that’s when I got real protective because what means most to be is in the vehicle with me. And I had another friend and his brother in the back too, a traffic officer and they got low too. And that’s when I went and parked my vehicle better and I went and I scouted the area and then I picked up the expended shells. I think it was a nine millimetre, I didn’t check, I just gave it to the police. And at that time the car followed behind the Trooper towards Ladyville and then like three minutes after it came back around and I saw some of my ex-police colleagues and I showed them that’s the car that just fired some shots and they apprehended the occupant of the car.”

Still on the Northern Highway, the Troopers broke speed limits until they reached a boat landing near Williamson Industries. It is then believed the kidnappers loaded Herbert into a waiting boat and escaped to sea.

Police would later find one of the Troopers abandoned in the Vista del Mar area. Inside, an AK47, a Tech 9 and a roll of duct tape was found in a suitcase in the trunk section. A splotch of blood on one of the door handles has led police to believe one of the kidnappers was injured. The second Trooper was found on a side road off the Old Northern Highway, both vehicles extensively damaged by gunfire.

Because of the precision planning of this brazen crime, and the persons involved, police suspect this incident was a drug related hit. Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona.

At news time tonight, only Sheldon “Shiny” Tillett was in police custody pending charges of possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

As police continue to scour land and sea in search of George Herbert, his mother is making a desperate plea to his abductors for his safe return home.

Maria Herbert, Mother of Kidnapped Victim

“I want them please help ah. All of us weh dah Belizean try help ah, try co-operate with all of us to try help mi son please, because we have three grand pickney weh I love and they love me. I noh want they damage him, I noh want they do ah nothing. I got the heart of my son, he dah the only one weh I got and I love he, he dah the only one. When I sick or my breast, I go to Mexico and he help me and my auntie.”

Jacqueline Woods

“George didn’t tell you that he was in trouble, that his life was being threatened? He didn’t tell you anything that would make you understand why anybody would want to take him?”

Maria Herbert

“I understand one time a police gone to my house and he kick the door open and he said, Mr. Broaster want ah dead or live. Mr. Broaster tell us one night, a morning about minutes to 3:00 Mr. John Ruiz deh right yah and he could tell you everything. He seh he want ah dead or live. Whatever he got, we wah find he anyway dead or live.”

Jacqueline Woods

“You noh know why anybody would want to take your son?”

Maria Herbert

“I don’t known nothing ma’am, nothing, nothing, I innocent. I want my son come back home with the three grand pickney I got.”

And this just in: Police Press Officer G. Michael Reid, has informed us that George Herbert is alive, safe and in the hands of police. Reid could provide no further details, but we’ll have more on this developing story in Friday night’s newscast.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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