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Jul 26, 2018

Law Enforcement Crackdown Attempts to Stem the Bloodshed in Port Loyola

There has been an explosion of gun violence in the Port Loyola area of late. Ongoing conflict between rival gangs has ended in shootings and two murders, including the horrible slaying of three-year-old Etana Bennett. As tensions grow and the risk to life escalates, the police have moved into the area to suppress further gang activity. Today, the police confirmed what is known on the streets, that the spate of violence is all connected. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The carnage in Port Loyola over the past seven days has seen at least two murders and has left several persons injured, following a rash of shooting incidents believed to be the result of a bitter dispute.  The spate of gun violence has claimed the life of a stevedore who, by all accounts, was not directly involved in gang activity.  The senseless attacks have also seen the tragic death of a three-year-old girl who was fatally shot during an ambush of her home on Sunday morning.  The increase in violent crimes in this community has forced the Belize Police Department to take action.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations)

“Over the past week we have seen a slight increase in shooting incidents and there have been two murders.  You had the murder that took place on the [Central American] Boulevard with Mr. Raymond Arnold and we had the murder of the child, the three-year-old.  Based on those activities, we have stepped up our police operations in the Port Loyola area with a view to be able to contain the ongoing feud between the rival groups in that area.  I will tell you that it is not an easy task because when you have people who are going at each other and live in close proximity of each other, it is not something that can easily be dealt with.”

 

There’s no better proof of this challenge than another shooting incident on Gill Street on Tuesday night, a short distance away from a police checkpoint that was set up in the aftermath of Sunday’s predawn attack on the Felix residence.

 

Chester Williams

“The checkpoint is manned on a twenty-four hour basis and the shooting, if you notice how Gill Street is situated the checkpoint was closer to Faber’s Road when the shooting occurred.  There is a curve going south and the shooting occurred after the curve, and so, from where the checkpoint was the police would not have been able to see the area where the shooting had taken place.  And so, what we have done is that we have now put the checkpoint at the center portion between Caesar Ridge and Faber’s Road on Gill Street.  So the distance to both ends of the street is now equal.”

 

Notwithstanding the beefing up of law enforcement in the embattled neighborhood, the Old Capital is grieving the murder of baby Etana Bennett.  The toddler’s death is yet another reminder of the reckless abandon exercised by criminal elements in Belize City.

 

Alva Moody

Isani Cayetano

“Do you feel any kind of resentment in your heart that maybe this was probably caused by the person you’re with, that all of this came perhaps because of the individual?”

 

Alva Moody, Mother of Deceased

“Well, I noh really wahn seh dat, but eena life things do happen but I noh wahn blame nobody for my baby.  I think I blame me.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you had a chance to speak with Roy?  How is he doing?  How is he coping with this incident?”

 

Etana Bennett

Alva Moody

“Well, he is not doing well, you know.  He loves Etana a lot.  Etana was his all.”

 

And that love, despite the gut-wrenching situation that Roy Bennett now finds himself in, makes it understandably difficult for him to mourn his daughter’s loss in peace, considering that she fell innocently to the ongoing enmity.

 

Chester Williams

“I know it is difficult for them, but we’re trying to see how we can work with them to hold up.  The minister, our minister met with them yesterday as well and gave his assurance that the police will be doing what we can to be able to deal with the matter.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now acknowledging that there is an ongoing feud between rival groups in that area, is this one for mediation?”

 

Chester Williams

“Well, there are several factions involved and what we want is to be able to find the persons who are first and foremost, criminally responsible for the actions that have occurred within that area and then we deal with those persons and then we look at mediation to prevent any retaliation for any of the incidents that have occurred in the area.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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