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Sep 30, 1999

Pelican Street residents say crime out of control

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The new Commissioner of Police Hughinton Williams and his Assistant Commissioners Carmen Zetina and Hugh Cain promised to do what they can to bring down crime, especially in Belize City. The residents of one neighborhood, which resembles a war zone, are desperate for help and hoping the police will tackle the violence in their area soon. In the meantime they are barricading themselves inside their homes.

Following the stabbing death of twenty-two year old Devon Velasquez on Pelican Street on Sunday, residents of the area are speaking out about the rampant crime and disturbances in the neighborhood.

Alvina Gentle, Resident

“Sometimes you get worried because for every time you hear something, you look out to see if your kid is involved in it. Every time you hear the police vehicle, you hear any funny noise, you look out, you quick to run out and see where your kids are and get them together.”

Residents complain that when fights between street youth get out of control they are threatened and their houses become targets for bottle throwing. Apparently the commotion is being caused by a number of young men, some of whom are gang affiliated.

Jeffrey Gentle, Resident

“It’s really kind of bad you know cause some nights we can’t sleep cause you have people run through your yard, you hear big gunshot busting every half hour around here. They just bust it for fun, just for fun they do it.”

Residents say many of the boys come into their neighborhood to play basketball. Rather than bring positive recreation, they say the court has brought nothing but trouble.

Jacqueline Woods

“Normally at mid-court on any basketball court, you would either see the name of that court or the area would simply be painted. But one look at this mid-court tells you that there is more than just dribbling that has been going on.” (marijuana plant displayed at mid-court)

The mid-court design was done in memory of another young resident who was brutally killed. But one woman, who did not wish to appear on camera gave us a shocking list of some incidents that have occurred on the court.

Voice of Resident

“They rape; they have stabbing up. They have chopping up with machete. They have… ooh… a lot of things happen on this court.”

Roy Saunders, Resident

“You hear a lot of noise you know around here but you can’t say nothing because at least you don’t want anybody to victimize you.”

Sometimes the fights end up in people’s backyards.

Voice of Resident

“I see about five or six young men in my yard but I never know it was a fight going on in my yard. All I noticed when the young man lift up, they had already slashed him across the head.”

Most of the residents we spoke with say they would want to see the basketball court removed. They say it should have never been built so close to residential homes.

Charlie Hinds, Resident

“From ever since it was built, it has been a hazard. It has not been something for the community. We have not had times that we could have what you call a get together, a barbecue or anything.

What, it did lose the morale of the kids around here. The bad words, the weed smoking all of these things are going on adjacent to my house. When you talk about it, nobody do anything about it.”

Roy Saunders, who has been living in the neighborhood for the past ten years, has erected a virtual fort of zinc and barbed wire just to keep trouble out. However, it did not stop one youth from stabbing Devon Velasquez sixteen times just outside of Saunders’ residence.

Roy Saunders, Resident

“When I reach around here, a little after nine the thing had already happened. So my niece come out and open the gate and say something just happen and I ask her how the bridge wet up like that; she said a bug fighting was down here.”

Area Representative Remijio Montejo says he is concerned about the situation. He says he believes the problem is a social one that has been created by the lack of jobs and he hopes the government puts more emphasis on job creation. At the moment, Montejo says his committee is working on providing a number of remedial programs for the underprivileged youths of the Collet Division.

Christopher Castillo was apprehended by police on Tuesday in Punta Gorda and will be charged with Velasquez’s murder. Police are still looking for Kevin Myvett. Police stress that he is not the Kevin Myvett known as “Boca T”.

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