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Jun 8, 2018

N.C.F.C. Jumps into Debate on Charges for Minor, 13, over Firearm

Elwin Pitter

Elwin Pitter, the minor who was shot by the police remains at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital recovering from injuries he sustained. Police maintain that the thirteen-year-old was shot because he pointed a firearm at them. But this is under dispute. The minor has already been charged with criminal offenses which have prompted a reaction from the National Committee for Families and Children. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Thirteen-year-old Elwin Pitter is perhaps the youngest on record to be charged with a criminal offense.  He is presently hospitalized after being shot in both legs on June second.  In fear of their lives, a team of GSU officers opened fire on him in front of his grandmother’s house on Raccoon Street.  Police say that the teenager was armed with a thirty-eight revolver and took aim at them when they caught up with him upon responding to a report that Pitter was in illegal possession of that firearm.

 

Wilfredo Ferrufino

Insp. Wilfredo Ferrufino, C.I.B., Belize City

“The information that the team had received was that they gave the description of a person who had in his possession a firearm.  The team then responded to that information.  I don‘t have any information that he was brandishing a firearm or anything of that nature.”

 

But the contention is that Pitter trained the pistol in the direction of his pursuers.  The handgun was subsequently found inside a knapsack he was reportedly carrying.  When News Five spoke with Sharlene Lobo earlier this week, she told us that the book bag was unzipped in her presence, but could not determine whether a weapon was indeed tucked inside.

 

Voice of: Sharlene Lobo, Grandmother of Shooting Victim

“When time one a dehn seh open di bag, open di bag, dehn dreg open di bag and dehn sih wahn shine thing.  I sih wahn shine thing but I noh know da what, I tell dehn plain I noh know da what.  I neva cooperate wid dehn fu dehn put me pan news.”

 

Notwithstanding his injuries, Pitter has been charged with various firearm-related offences.  The paperwork was presented to him in the absence of his parents whilst bedridden at the K.H.M.H.

 

Roy Pitter

Roy Pitter, Father of Shooting Victim

“Charge di young bwai, send charge sheet da hospital yesterday without his father’s consent, his mother’s consent.  No JP or no Justice of the Peace deh wid di young bwai, ih only thirteen-years-old but we got wahn law.”

 

That piece of legislation is Section Two of the Juvenile Offenders Act of Belize which states that a child, in this case anyone below the age of fourteen, if the parent or guardian lives within a reasonable distance and can be found, cause him to be warned to attend at the court before which the child or young person will be brought.  Roy Pitter contends that he was never around when the charges were served on his son.  That allegation prompted the National Committee for Families and Children to issue a release earlier today, calling for the fair treatment of children in the justice system.  In response, Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, an attorney at law, agrees with the legal position that NCFC has quoted.  However, he asserts that children are also expected to act reasonably within the laws of the country.  In the case of the parent being absent, DCP Williams says that Pitter was informed of the firearm being found on his son and that he refused to accept his child’s culpability and therefore did not cooperate with the officers.  A Justice of the Peace was called in and charges were subsequently levied on the teenager. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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