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Sep 14, 2005

Meatpie vendor critical after robbers shoot him

Story PictureThere is a tendency in some segments of our community to write off much of the violent crime now plaguing Belize as an urban phenomenon in which ghetto youths simply slaughter each other over minor drug deals and “old beefs.” But whether you hold that view or not, the cold-blooded shooting that occurred this morning near Queen’s Square market, did not fit the stereotype. News Five’s Jacqueline Woods has the story.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Around seven every morning fifty-three year old Efrian Heraso, a meatpie vendor, would get on his bicycle cart and go to sell his food. And while today began no differently, tonight he lies in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to the face. Reports are that Heraso was at the corner of Bocotora and Iguana Streets around nine a.m. when a trio of gunmen approached him and demanded money. It is not clear if the suspects got any cash, but shortly afterwards people in the area recall hearing a couple of gunshots. Heraso, shot in the arm and right side of his face, was bleeding badly, but managed to run to Olive’s Kitchen. Owner Olive Leslie and employee Ernestine Stevens were inside when Heraso entered.

Ernestine Stevens, Employee, Olive’s Kitchen
“We noh see who shoot or what, but we only hear two shots and when we look, the man run into the kitchen and when he run into the kitchen, he run out back. And you know we try to follow to see the what, but we never see nobody out here because apparently he mi done get shot already. And after he run in there, he start to holler something about policia, I guess he was trying to tell us to call the police. Then time deh, blood just start to come out like yah so and then when we look and come out here we see a white car stop for him right here and he get in the white car and he gone.”

Olive Leslie, Owner, Olive’s Kitchen
“A few years ago some guys they came and robbed me and put a gun to my head, but this was more frightening actually, to be honest with you.”

“Just that the fact that a lot of blood was coming out from his mouth. Like he just was vomiting up blood or spit up, but it was more than just spit, like vomit blood.”

The bullet apparently exited the left side of the cheek. K.H.M.H. officials say because the injury occurred close to Heraso’s nasal passage, they are assessing the wound to see if there was any damage to the patent’s airway and brain.

Ernestine Stevens, Employee, Olive’s Kitchen
“I noh know if he was being chased, I noh know if he mi stop with the thing, I noh know. All we hear are the two shots and he dash in there, so we never mi the look out yah none at all because we were at the back di cook.”

But people on the street did get to see the gunmen and the police are now looking for them.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer
“We know that there were three individuals and the police have a good description of these persons and we hope that before long these persons will be in custody.”

The shooting occurred just two blocks away from the police headquarters on Raccoon Street.

G. Michael Reid
“Well what it does is shows the blatant way in which these individuals operate, that they have no regard for authority, no fear for anything, even the consequence of getting caught; and it is unfortunate. Certainly we can do only what we can do and we hope the community will cooperate and assist the police in removing these very dangerous individuals from amongst us.”

Ernestine Stevens
“At the time it happen so fast, I never really, you know, I never really frighten until I look back and I see the amount of blood and it could have been one ah we.”

Heraso, who is the sole provider for his family, has six children. Today his daughter-in-law Vanessa Rojos says they are having a difficult time coping with the tragedy and they cannot understand why anyone would want to take money a man who has to struggle to make a living. Rojos says she does not know how much money Heraso had on him, only that they are tired of crime.

Vanessa Rojos, Daughter In Law
“They have always bothered us. If we don’t give them our money they take it away by force. Just the other day they hit a friend of ours on the head and took his money. He left because he couldn’t take it anymore.”

Police believe Heraso was shot with a point thirty-eight revolver. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

Up to news time police had not arrested anyone for the attack. Heraso remains in critical but stable condition at the K.H.M.H.

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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