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Feb 24, 2015

San Pedro Shooting Leaves Toddler Dead

Daniel Espat

Family members and the community on San Pedro Ambergris Caye are tonight mourning the terrible loss of two year old Daniel Espat, who was shot and killed as he slept. The toddler is the youngest victim of the unending violence that has spread its tentacles throughout the island. The fatal shooting happened just after two this morning at the Espat family home in the San Pedrito area of the island. The boy’s mother, thirty-three year old Aleyda Espat was also caught in the gunfire that blasted through the walls of their small apartment. The boy’s father, who is believed to be the target of a drug war on the island, was not injured. The toddler is his sixth family member—which includes four sons, a brother and a nephew—to perish in the gun violence. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The extreme violence of action with which a lone gunman, or a pair of armed assailants, struck the residence of Rolando Espat Sr. has left in its wake the unthinkable.  At approximately two o’clock this morning, a volley of shots tore through the wooden walls of this lower flat, none finding a mark on the intended target.  Instead the rounds mortally wounded two-year-old Daniel Espat who was asleep next to his mother.  She too was critically injured.  The overnight assault on the apartment complex in San Pedrito is the second since February eleventh.


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr., Father of Deceased

“Everything happened so fast right.  I heard maybe eight or ten shots, I didn’t count it at the time but it was many shots.  So when I heard the gunshots [were] over I tell my wife, “Everybody okay?  Is the baby okay?”  She said, “The baby is not moving, I think he get shot.”


The toddler, laying dormant on the bed, had been shot twice in the head, his mother struck once in the left elbow.  The fusillade perforated everything, including a five-gallon bottle of water and an adjacent refrigerator.


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr.

“I put on the light and I saw my baby in a pool of blood.”


At that moment, Roli, as he is known, rushed outside for help.  Coming to his aid was a next door neighbor whose daughter, Meredith Escalante, was also shot a week and a half ago.  Ironically, both rooms are separated by a single bullet-riddled partition.


Voice of: Maria Escalante, First Responder

“I didn’t go [inside] the room, I just ran out how I ran with my child.  I helped, drive and I reached to the polyclinic.  That’s it.  I can’t say, “Oh I saw” because I didn’t.  I just heard the baby got shot and I ran out, but he wasn’t so lucky as my child.  She was lucky, he didn’t, his wife either. A while after, maybe ten [to] fifteen minutes he was already gone.”


Isani Cayetano

“So were you asleep and you were awoken by the sound of gunshots?”


Aleyda Espat

Voice of: Maria Escalante

“I just heard a noise and the knocking of my wall, then I woke up.  Then I just saw a bullet drop on my bed and I just ran out again, helped that child just like my own and took him to the polyclinic.  And there we were when they told us he is dead.”


That macabre experience, sadly, is one that Espat has become all too familiar with.  It is the sixth family member he has lost to gun violence within a relatively short span.  As a reporter, I’ve been to this residence on previous occasions to cover murder stories.  This one is the most unsettling.


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr.

“It’s very hard.  It’s very hard for me.”


Isani Cayetano

“Mr. Espat, it is rather unfortunate sir but this is not the first time that tragedy has visited you.  I’ve done several interviews with you where you’ve lost sons, you’ve lost other relatives as a result of gun violence.  What is taking place?  Do you fear for your personal safety at this point?”


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr.

“Of course.  I heard rumors that they’re after me.  Six months ago, my oldest son was shot.  Rolando Junior.”


Isani Cayetano

“I did that interview with you sir.”


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr.

“Right now my youngest son has been shot.  He’s just two and a half years old.  Like I told you mein, it’s very hard for me to deal with all this situation.”


In June 2012, the decomposing bodies of eighteen-year-old Charlie Espat and seventeen-year-old Eduardo Daniel Alamilla were discovered in a shallow grave near Santa Marta Village in Orange Walk.  Both men had been missing for almost a week.  By January of the following year, another relative would be massacred inside a nightclub in San Pedro.  Twenty-five-year-old Byron Estrada had been stabbed as many as twenty-two times inside a restroom before being found gravely injured by patrons of the establishment.  In September of last year, Rolando Espat Junior was shot and killed in proximity of the residence, as he exited Jeemars Sports Bar.  The toll keeps rising.


Isani Cayetano

“For the record sir, is the fourth child you’ve lost?”


Voice of: Rolando Espat Sr.

“The fourth child.  I’ve lost the fourth child.  I’ve lost a nephew and my brother-in-law…six family members.”


This morning, officers from various branches of the police department, including CIB and GSU, descended on San Pedrito.  While an investigation remains ongoing, News Five spoke with Superintendent Luis Castellanos.


Luis Castellanos

Supt. Luis Castellanos, O.C. Coastal Executive Unit

“So far we still haven’t confirmed what is the motive.  We were looking at the angle of maybe if it was a retaliation of, if you recall, the case with Kareem Eagan.  And so we don’t know if it is a retaliation of that but we don’t have a clear motive.  We are investigating and trying to figure out or to find out what is the motive.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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4 Responses for “San Pedro Shooting Leaves Toddler Dead”

  1. Spike says:

    Belize isn’t even a nice place to visit. If you do decide to visit Belize, don’t forget your bullet proof vest. Better yet, visit somewhere else where they value human life.

  2. Rod says:

    The island of death strikes again this action is due to the fact that this pm and gov sent all these gang members were sent to all of belize so thank your pm and the udp gov. For all these murders on your island.

  3. X-Ray says:

    ROD I said it before and I am saying again; you are an idiot.

  4. Dan says:

    So sad,
    20 years ago I visited San Pedro. It was beautiful place with wonderful people . It was the only place I’ve visited that I was tempted to stay.
    I feared then that this little town would now survive as it was.
    So Sad,

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