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Mar 31, 2008

Belize City killing spree continues with weekend murder

Story PictureAnother day, another murder. That seems to be the disturbing trend developing in Belize City and while there’s no end in sight, tonight the good news is there have been breaks in several of the cases under investigation. News Five’s Marion Ali has the details.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The fact that several people were around and it was a Sunday morning did not stop a gunman’s intent on deadly violence. Investigations show around ten that day, the perpetrator was on Central American Boulevard when he fired through this zinc fence, targeting the men standing behind it.

Marion Ali
“Twenty year old Tyrone Castellanos was standing inside this yard with about four other friends when a gunman coming contrary to traffic on Central American Boulevard fired a series of gunshots. One of the bullets penetrated this zinc fence and struck Castellanos in the back of the head. Castellanos struggled to the back of the house where he collapsed, dying a few minutes later.”

Two neighbours heard the shots.

Voice of Eyewitness #1
“I mi deh ova dah my house when this shooting happen.”

Marion Ali
“That dah next door.”

Eyewitness #1
“Next door yeh, cause dah my neighbour. Ih so happens that I mi di cook, I mi di prepare things fi cook. I mi di cook, I mi deh eena my kitchen di cook. So while I di cook I yer di gunshot but from the distance ah weh I yer it I know that dah my neighbour yard they di shot. So I run out ah my house and I come out. By this time my husband done come out and all ah we come out. So when we come out we neva did see di person deh because from fi we area ih hard fi we could look through this side so they mussy mi done flee or so cause the gunshot mi stop. And ih so happens that we try, we me want si who mi get shot or weh really happen then. When we hear somebody seh somebody deh back ah the house, somebody lay out back ah di house so we run back ah the house. So I get close to the person and when I look over the lee boy, I know the lee boy. The lee boy dah wah lee boy weh always come round—as a matter of fact the lee child grow round yah. Ih grow right eena this vicinity. I try fi pick up ah but then ih done badly hurt. All I know I coulda mi si one shot eena ih head.”

Voice of Eyewitness #2
“We heng out een yah everyday. When deh boy them deh dah work, we deh een yah. Me, my friend, when my bredda gial no go dah work we sidong een yah and we heng out cause eena this yard cool fi heng out.”

Marion Ali
“You mi deh yah yesterday too right?”

Eyewitness #2
“I mi deh yah yeah, I mi di sidong dah front deh pan da cement out deh pan di sidewalk and they deh eena the yard. I coulda mi get shot eena my head, yoh chek? I coulda mi get shot but I gone with wah vibes when I see the young boy they di circle I just gone bout my business. While I deh home da my house my lee sista deh eena my yard di heng out clothes and my lee sista seh Katherine you noh hear gunshot? I tell ah no, ih seh something happen dah Kaylon yard, lotta police deh out deh. So I seh well mek I come, come check then. And so when I come, come check the young boy deh eena the yard lay out.”

Marion Ali
“Could ah mi be you?”

Eyewitness #2
“Coulda mi be me, coulda mi be my bredda, coulda mi be my nephew or my lee niece cause deh lee pickney stay eena this yard di play. This dah deh playground. Dah deh the pickney run bout. Young boy deh just pass and di shoot up people, noh man. dat noh go so, dat have to stop.”

Castellanos’ mother, Lisa Neal, is still coming to terms with the young man’s death.

Lisa Neal, Mother of Murder Victim
“Saturday ih spend the whole day with we and yo know, ih just mi happy, ih just mi happy mein. I noh know why deh kill my son tell you. He wake up everybody eena the house early dah morning. when he get up everybody fi get up. Yesterday morning, ih get up and ih just gone, ih just gone seh ih going go buy and ih di come back, ih just gone. “

Marion Ali
“You neva know weh ih mi gwein?”

Lisa Neal
“I neva really know weh pah ih mi gwein cause I hear ih di seh ih gwein but I mi deh eena my room so I noh really like mi come out cause I know ih usually tek ih walk back ah beach and ker di dog go walk and thing. So more or less I suggest that may be ih gwein dah beach go walk the dog and thing but …”

Marion Ali
“Then the next yo hear they shot ah.”

Lisa Neal
“Next thing. I mi just mi be prepared fi go cook my Sunday food when I hear ih get shot. I no even mi know ih dead till I reach hospital.”

Police have released the names of the suspects wanted in connection with the shooting.

A.C.P. Allen Whylie, Commander, Eastern Division Police Station
“Reference the murder of Tyrone Castellanos which occurred yesterday on Central American Boulevard, police have in their custody one Alrick Olivera who has been arrested and charged for the crime of Murder. We also have issued warrants in the first instance for the arrest of Charles Castillo and Cordell Flowers.”

The Castellanos killing is the twenty-seventh of the year, and the ninth in March alone. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, ongoing investigations have resulted in several breakthroughs.

A.C.P. Allen Whylie
“Of those nine investigations, police persistency, especially over this weekend, along with continued support of the public led to a number of breakthrough in respect to the identification of persons involved in some of these incidents and subsequent arrests by the police officers over this weekend. To date we have three cases that are still under investigation that we are making some progress on and those incidents are the murders of Shadan March, Shaun Avilez and Raymond Thompson.”

The family of the latest victim had this message for Belize City’s youths.

Lisa Neal
“Put down the gun. They di do too much, too much, too much. put down the gun. I neva believe I mi wah wake and … yo know, I neva expect this. I neva expect it. They have to put down di gun, fi we government have to try do something bout all deh killing weh di happen because only we mothers di feel it and only who feels it knows it.”

Voice of Eyewitness #
“Stop di shoot like dat yoh di kill yoh own black bredda. The black eh di dead out too quick. And then the other hurtful part, my neighbour have some small lee pickney weh always di run bout eena this yard and play. What if one ah deh bullet mi catch one ah deh lee baby and kill them? Ih no nice fi unnu live like dat, Belize dah wah small country fi we di live like that. All I di seh to the lee boy them who do it, I noh know which one ah them, unnu try stop and think man, unnu come from wah mother and ih noh nice fi di kill out each other like that. mek wi stop—especially pan wah day weh dah Sunday, yoh noh even respect di Lord’s day.”

Investigations into the spate of violence have revealed that the shootings and murders are in retaliation for previous crimes. Marvin Reyes who was targeted in last Thursday’s shooting on Krooman Road, is now charged with the March thirteenth murder of Herman “Yaga” Morris who was gunned down through an alley off Mayflower Street.

Charged jointly along with Reyes for Morris’ murder are Giovanni Gentle and Art Skeet. Skeet is also charged along with Leonardo Cassanova for last Wednesday night’s shooting death of Edgar Segura, who was gunned down while talking with friends at the corner of Daisy Lane and Oleander Street.

“We’re satisfied that we have sufficient evidence to charge these persons and to prove our case.”

But while the evidence has been forthcoming, witness tampering remains an issue.

Superintendent Aaron Guzman
“As we speak there is a person in custody in relation to the Matura shooting. He threatened the witness and he has been detained this morning and this afternoon he will be heading over to court or hopefully tomorrow morning to be charged for the threats he made against the witness. That is what we have that we can do to assist witnesses and once a witness is threatened by anyone and that witness gives a statement we charge that person for threatening the witness. And the prosecutor will object to bail because it’s a serious case and you’re threatening the witness.”

At a press briefing today, A.C.P. Whylie also advised licensed firearm holders to keep their weapons in secure places as gun theft has become a regular occurrence.
Reporting for News Five, I’m Marion Ali.

Today police also upgraded charges against Belize City businessman Zung Zhang to that of murder after Chi Cheong died of a bullet wound sustained last Wednesday. The incident took place at Belize Glass and Aluminum on the Northern Highway during an altercation between the two. Zung will be arraigned tomorrow in the Magistrate’s Court.

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