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Jan 31, 2001

City neighbourhoods fearful in wake of shootings

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Monday’s killing of two children in an attempted hit on a reputed crime figure has not only shocked the Belizean community, but has also engulfed several Belize City neighbourhoods in a climate of fear. Ann-Marie Williams reports that the tragic double murder may be just the tip of an even more violent iceberg.

Jose Zelaya, Resident

“Around here was like F*** cowboy town last night, on the real. It wasn’t any play, lots of bullets were hailing around here.”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

Around here is Mahogany Street Extension, where Mark Saragoza says he was walking when he was attacked by two gunmen.

Mark Saragoza, Victim

“Two of them came with guns, rode into me. I was out here alone and the slapped me in my face with the gun. When I grabbed his hand, he shot the gun in the ground. He pulled the trigger and shot the gun in the ground. I was holding on, so he called the other one and he slapped my head with the other gun. The two of them tried to chance me. I ran from them. When I ran, they put four shots in this house right here at me, bam, bam, bam, bam. They popped off my gold chain.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“She said you were asking to come in.”

Mark Saragoza

“Yeah, and the lady was jumpy, so she didn’t want to open the. The men popped off my links. Popped my chains and took them. So it like they robbed my too.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“You think they wanted to kill you?”

Mark Saragoza

“They wanted to kill me and they robbed me.”

Saragoza was wounded outside Judith Petillo’s house. And although he tried to seek refuge, Petillo, who feared for her own life, wouldn’t open the door.

Judith Petillo, Resident

“He knocked and hollered “J, J, J.” I was frightened and he probably wanted me to open the door. I was going to open the door, when my son said no because I’ll get shot. So all my son did was… I had my little grandson was at the table drinking tea and so my son took him from around the table in case the gun went through the door, so he wouldn’t get shot. I started to get frightened and coward and thought the boy must be dead because I didn’t want to open the door. I got frightened, and you can hear the noise out there.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“You saw the bleeding too when he came to the door?”

Judith Zelaya

“Yes, because when I opened the door, I looked on the ground and saw blood and said, “Oh my God, the boy is bleeding. He got shot.”

Luckily he didn’t, as he managed to escape from the triggermen in a car.

Ann-Marie Williams

“Do you think it’s a thing with rival gangs?”

Mark Saragoza

“That’s it, it’s a gang thing. They just envy me. They think that I am their speed, but I not on their timing.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Are you in a gang?”

Mark Saragoza

“I’m not in any gang. I’m a hard working man. I got my own house, my shop, everything. I am making my own money, I can survive how I want. Those young boys have nothing, so they have to chance people. They want something, they have nothing, so they’ll do anything to go jail.”

Jose Zelaya

“They better try to put a stop to this thing because now the whole neighbourhood is endangered. Pickney (children) cannot even run about in the neighbourhood right now because the size of guns that was spraying up last night, how will pickney be able to hang around. People have to keep their doors lock like America right now.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Prior to the senseless double murder of two innocent children on Monday, around this Mahogany Street Extension area, you would find school children walking home and doors would be open, some semblance of life around here. However, all this has changed. A community’s innocence has been replaced by fear.”

Judith Petillo

“I am very afraid because I have to keep my doors locked. This shouldn’t be because I am doing my little business and people come and buy my things. I have to have to door open for the kids to come buy, I make pastries and things like that.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

Police are still looking for the two gunmen who assaulted Saragoza.

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