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May 28, 2008

Fight between off-duty cop and watchman ends in gunfire

Story PictureA shooting in Belize City is hardly a rare event these days, but a confrontation between an off-duty police officer and a security guard on Tuesday night has produced bloody results. According to our sources, sometime between eight and nine last night, thirty-five year old Constable Fernando Franzua and his wife, WPC Alma Mortis, were at Friendship Restaurant at mile two on the Northern Highway. But the officer was none too pleased when he returned to his car and found that one of the windows of the vehicle was broken. An enraged and reportedly inebriated Franzua confronted the establishment’s security guard, thirty year old Moises Lobos, demanding to know what happened. Apparently, Lobos told him he didn’t see how the damage occurred. The two began to argue and the dispute reportedly escalated to violence when Franzua pulled out his wife’s service revolver and fired a shot in Lobos’ direction. In response, the AAA employee retaliated, firing three shots with his own weapon. One of the bullets struck Franzua in his left shoulder and he was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for treatment. We told that version of the event to Police Press Officer Clement Palacio this morning but the cops appear tight-lipped about the details of the incident.

Clement Palacio, Press Officer, Police Department
“There was an altercation at the Friendship Restaurant between an officer who was off-duty and the security officer that was at the establishment. It is said that there was gunfire between the two and of course the matter is under investigation. That’s what I’m telling you.”

Marion Ali
“Altercation meaning fist fight leading to gunfire?”

Clement Palacio
“No. Again, I don’t want to go into that kind of detail. I am telling you that there were shots fired evidently.”

Marion Ali
“Any knowledge that he might have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol?”

Clement Palacio
“Well, if a matter is under investigation I think that you will respect that I can’t go into that angle. You may be allowed to go in that direction, I can’t. As is customary when there is a shooting and it involves a weapon being used by the police, the matter then goes before the Internal Affairs Department that deals with matters pertaining to discipline.”

Franzua is in stable condition at the K.H.M.H and up to news time, no charges had been filed against Lobos. In a press release issued this afternoon about the shooting, the Commissioner of Police, Gerald Westby, reiterated “to the media, members of the police department and the general public of his zero-tolerance policy of abuse by police officers”…and maintained that “anyone found culpable will be dealt with the full force of the law”.

In other news involving a police shooting, PR officer Palacio could not share details of an incident that is alleged to have occurred on Mahogany Street around eight-thirty this morning. Apparently a police officer was attempting to search and detain an individual when his service weapon discharged on the busy street. No one was injured but police say the matter is under investigation.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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