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Jun 5, 2018

Dangrigans Shocked as Town Hall Driver Maurice Serano Ends Life

Maurice Serrano

On Monday afternoon, the sixty-one-year-old driver of Dangriga’s Mayor Francis Humphrey ended his own life in front of his house as he was being pursued by the police. Maurice Serrano died instantly from the blast of a single shot as police, along with a social worker as well as two underage girls, approached him. The two minors had made allegations of a sexual nature against Serrano and rather than facing the long arms of the law, he turn a gun on himself. The community, as well as colleagues at the Town Hall, is still reeling from the shocking turn of events. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.     

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The taking of one’s own life, presumably to avoid the law, is a cop-out, particularly in a case where the alleged culprit also attempts to shun embarrassment from charges for sexual crimes committed against a pair of minors.  It’s a prevailing impression left in the wake of Maurice Serrano’s suicide on Monday afternoon in Dangriga.

 

Francis Humphreys

Francis Humphreys, Mayor, Dangriga

“Nobody is born perfect, we’re all born with imperfections and among those imperfections is how much we can tolerate mental stress, physical stress and it varies from individual to individual.  You never really know what a person is bearing inside.  Unless they speak about it or seek help to cope with it and so I will not sit in judgment of imperfection manifesting itself in that manner.”

 

The sixty-one-year-old driver who had been working closely with Mayor Francis Humphreys, shot and killed himself in the presence of police officers, a social worker and two underage teens at his home in the New Site area.  A resident recalls what took place off-camera.

 

Voice of: Neighbor

“Two police vehicles came.  I think they parked exactly in front of my house.  First, it was the white police pickup and then right behind the police pickup was the Scenes of Crime vehicle.  It’s like they parked in front, exactly in front of my house for about fifteen to twenty minutes.  We had no idea what they were doing so I came downstairs, looked around, I saw they still stayed in the vehicle, so I said dehn noh di cohn pick up nobody from my house so.  So I just stayed there right on my stairs.  From there, a little while after that, the two vehicles drove off.”

 

They wouldn’t be gone for long.  It seems as though the officers, including a woman police constable, were intent on approaching Serrano.  The allegation against him was that he was sexually involved with a pair of teenage girls below the age of consent.  The team would soon return to his home.

 

Voice of: Neighbor

“When they came back now, the white police pickup parked up right exactly in front of his house.  Behind his house, right down there was the Scenes of Crime vehicle.  From there, the first one who came out was the WPC.  At the same time she came out, the male police came out, after that was the social worker and two young ladies.  All I heard after that was when the WPC shouted out, “Young man mek a tell yoh something.”  From there a shot went off.”

 

Serrano, who was in possession of a nine millimeter Ruger, placed the firearm under his chin and discharged a single round.  He fell dead on the concrete landing, in plain view of the arresting officers, as well as his accusers.  Mayor Humphreys shares his immediate reaction upon hearing of what had happened.

 

Francis Humphreys

“Total shock.  As per normal, I called him to pick me up early yesterday morning, got here for an extended meeting that took me well past one o’clock in the afternoon.  He called me and asked if I was going to make any move.  I said,  “No, I am tied right down, so go ahead and get your lunch.”  That was the last conversation I had with him, because not long after that I went home to look after lunch and it was in that space of time that I got the bad news.”

 

Today, the main entrance to the Dangriga Town Hall is adorned with a black ribbon.  Serrano’s colleagues at work are all mourning his passing.  The circumstances surrounding this unthinkable act of self-inflicted violence, however, has traumatized those who witnessed the incident as it unfolded.

 

Voice of: Neighbor

“When the gunshot rang off, one shot, people started screaming from there.  The first set that came down were the two young girls along with the social worker.  The social worker told them, “Unnu let’s go.”  Then right behind them was the male police holding the WPC because it seemed like she saw everything.”

 

While Serrano may have escaped the charges, his name and reputation have been sullied.  His suicide, in the eyes of many, seems to prove his guilt.  For Mayor Humphreys, he is focusing on the positive attributes of his former employee and friend.

 

Francis Humphreys

“Just a day or two after we were elected, he was recruited to be my driver and from the outset, I guess it’s the situation where in the Creole language we say, the spirit tek, you know.  We settled in, I established what our professional relationship would be.  We would focus on the work that needed to be done for the community and our private lives were off the record entirely.  Off limits.”

 

Both men had been working with each other at Town Hall for a little over three years. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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