3 shot in Barbershop, one dead; prominent businessman the hero
Thursday night was an unusually bloody night. There were three murders within the span of an hour—two in Belize City alone and one in Dangriga. We’ll have full details of the all the murders. But we first start with the last murder for the night which brings us to Dale’s Barber Shop on East Canal where patrons within the hair salon were shot upon by two gunmen. Thirty year old Jason Canto was killed. But was he the intended target? News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
The second murder of the night took place at 7:55 at Dale’s Barber shop, located at the West Canal junction with Bishop Street. Thirty year old Jason Canto was shot several times. He sustained gunshot wounds to the right side of his chest, two to his right armpit, four visible wounds to his arm, and a graze to the left upper back. The barber, Twenty nine year old Adriel Pelayo, received a gunshot wound to the upper portion of his left leg. Since the police department has stepped up patrols with eighty additional officers in the city, they were able to arrive shortly after.
Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood, Police Press Officer
“Jason Canto and some other costumers were in the Barber shop when two men entered a side door at this barber shop. One of them took out a firearm and opened fire on them hitting Canto several times to the body. One of the costumers, an owner of a licensed firearm, took out his firearm and opened fire on the shooter. I know police visited a abandoned house on Bishop Street after these men made good their escape; police were called out to an abandoned house where they found one Norman Slusher suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the right leg. He was transported to the K.H.M.H. where he remains under police guard. We believe that he is a suspect in the murder of Jason Canto.”
One of the suspects, twenty three year old Norman Slusher of Tigris Street received gunshot wounds to his right leg and the lower right side of his abdomen. Family members of Jason Canto are distraught that his life was extinguished in a violent manner.
“Jason was my younger brother; my only brother. Jason was full of life. Jason wasn’t like how society would put it that he was affiliated with any gang members or anything like that. Jason loved the sea, loved to travel, [and] loved the girls. He loved his family. It is sad to see him go just like this—leaving his two sisters, mom and dad. And it’s hard for us to move on from here; like what would be the next step. I think we leave everything in the hands of God to take care of.”
“This is not just another statistic. He is not somebody who is known to be involved in activities. Was he just in the wrong place?”
“I believe he probably was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rumor has it, it’s a; you know people have, there’s all sorts of rumors going around, but until we get to the bottom of it and find out exactly what happened. Why Jason? Then I can’t say anything else.”
“We understand that it is possible that Canto was not the intended target. Could you make any comment on that?”
Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood
“I cannot say that. The amount of shots that he received—and there were other people inside the barber shop—it’s hard for us to say that he was not the intended target.”
“Is there a possibility that it may have been mistaken identity?”
Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood
“I would not comment on that. We’ll just leave that it is part of an ongoing investigation. we have someone in custody. I wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize our chances of making an arrest in this case.”
“The person who fired, who had the licensed gun in the barber shop though, you would definitely consider that as some assistance. Would he be charged? How will that be dealt with?”
Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood
“Well that is considered to be self-defense and that is why I am asking the media to help us to conceal his identity.”
The man, whom police say was not a target, is forty two year old Jose Shoman Junior. When the two assailants charged through the side door of the barbershop, Shoman pulled out his licensed nine millimeter pistol and fired several shots at the men. Shoman declined an interview. On May six, 2008, Shoman experienced a five hour police raid at his home, which included the K-9 and other police units. By December 2008, he found out that an employee and Guatemalan nationals were planning to rob and murder his entire family.
“The informant told me in detail that they would have gained entry by force, tried to have everyone tied up and then rob for what they can and then after that they would not leave any witnesses. They would have started with my children, my wife, the rest of my family. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. Imagine if this thing had gone through, perhaps you all would be covering another side of the story and probably looking at our local people as the ones who committed this crime. This isn’t something for us to sit down lightly on because the people that were behind were former employees, people we trusted. I want to caution everyone in Belize. My children right now don’t even want to come out to play. My wife is very distraught over it. I’m stepping up my personal security. We are going to b e more vigilant of who’s coming and going, screen workers before employment, I will have twenty-four hour armed security at the house. As you can see, these people have no regard”
The men who plotted to murder Shoman were convicted. However, The police department admits that the Thursday night shootings were also calculated and well planned.
“These murders are planned. Particularly these two that we are looking at right now in Belize City that took place last night. You can say it was executed with precision. And even with that, we still have a person in custody from the Jason Canto murder which shows that we have our officers out there, we are responding, we are gathering our intelligence and we will continue to ask for the support of the public because clearly you can see that the public are assisting us. And we must never discount that.”
As Canto’s body is being transported away, another piece of intelligence that should not be discounted is the fact that many murders are not taking place by gunmen in tinted vehicles, but by youths on bicycles who apparently have old beef scores to settle. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.Email This Story