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Feb 28, 2008

Young mother shot dead in Cotton Tree hold-up

Story PictureThe dark hand of homicide has descended on a village not far from the nation’s capital and a tiny baby will now grow up without the love of his mother. News Five’s Marion Ali reports from the scene.

Marion Ali, Reporting
When forty-eight year old Horacio Sanabria and his family opened their grocery shop yesterday morning in Cotton Tree Village, they never imagined that the day would end in nightmare. Just as they were about to close before nine last night, they became the targets of an armed hold-up which would end in a vicious murder. Three masked men armed with guns and a machete entered the yard and went to the back yard where they accosted Horacio first. He was walking toward the shop from their house situated behind the business.

Horacio Sanabria, Shot During Attack
“When I reached there two men attacked me. One of them had a gun and when he grabbed me, the other was going to chop me with a machete but I managed to grab the handle and slide it down, cutting his hand in the process. The other man then shot at me but I bent down and the bullet just grazed my head.”

After Horacio’s struggle with the attackers, they entered the shop and held up his wife, Marta, and eldest daughter, twenty-two year old Mirna, who was holding her seven month old baby. It was at this point that the wounded Horacio went for his brother’s gun and started to shoot at the men from the back of the yard.

At the same time, inside the shop, the gunmen robbed Marta and Mirna of their gold jewellery, cash and a cellular phone. In the process they shot Mirna in the neck, before disappearing into the night. When Horacio finally managed to stumble to the shop, his dying daughter was on the floor still clutching her baby. She died a short time later.

Horacio Sanabria Junior was at his girlfriend’s house not far away. He told us when the shots rang out, a bad feeling rushed through him.

Horacio Sanabria Junior, brother of Murder Victim
“When I hear the bullets I told she I gwein cause I hear bullet and then when i reach ya soh I see my pa di come out with the car. Then I seh cho da mussi somebody deh shot eena di shop so I start run. But then when I see my pa, my pa done di go. He tell me boy, deh kill yoh sister and I seh “What!” And den they tell me they kill yoh sister. “Cho dat da noh true mein.” When I gone een deh I see latta blood pan di ground.”

When our news team reached the location, the Scenes of Crime Unit had just completed their initial processing and were searching the back yard for expended shell. Lead investigator, Sergeant Solomon Westby, says while police have clearly established that robbery was the motive and have detained two suspects, they are yet to close the case.

Sergeant Solomon Westby, Crimes Investigations, Belmopan
“Some guys were seen hanging around here before the incident. Some guys we got some names from guys from Ontario Village. Based on that police are conducting investigations into those guys from which he have apprehended both guys.”

Marion Ali
“But there were three masked men we were told.”

Sergeant Solomon Westby
“Yeah, we were told of three, so far we got names for two of those guys and we have apprehended them, they’re presently in custody and the other name we as not yet haven’t come up with a name.”

Police believe that third person may be from Cotton Tree Village and might have been studying the family for a while. Police have not yet recovered any weapons but did find one slug, which they have sent for analysis. While they gather the evidence to make a case, the younger Horacio is looking for justice.

Horacio Sanabria Junior
“I want police ketch dem and send them to jail at least. Mek deh pay fi what deh du.”

Marion Ali
“Dis da di first time…”

Horacio Sanabria Junior
“Yes dis da di first time dis happen eena dis shop but four robberies done gone on eena dis same village but they mi neva come ya yet.”

Sergeant Westby says Belmopan police are doing their best to cope with the recent spate of robberies in Cotton Tree, which is situated about nine miles away from the capital and has no permanent police presence.

Sergeant Solomon Westby
“We come around, we look for the people who are wanted in respect to their complaints and they are been dealt with.”

Marion Ali
“Have patrols been increased?”

Sergeant Solomon Westby
“Yeah, from time, usually is a mission is to be set where police are checking reports lets say further up to Saint Matthews or so, definitely it’s been advised that patrols be taken within the other villages within the area.”

Because Horacio Senior managed to pull off two of the men’s masks in his struggle with them, he feels he can identify them if he sees them again. It is that identification that police are now depending on to charge the two men they have in custody.

Reporting for News five, Marion Ali.

The murder of Mirna Sanabria brings the number of homicides for 2008 to seventeen.

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