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Feb 8, 2016

Canadian Tourists Robbed at Gunpoint

There was another sensational crime this weekend, in which two Canadian tourists were held hostage by armed robbers who then shot a man while stealing his vehicle to make their getaway. The first incident, the armed robbery, took place at the Tropical Education Center at mile twenty-eight on the George Price Highway. The shooting took place shortly after, on a stretch of the old Western Highway nearby. Mike Rudon was at the Center today and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Canadian retirees Stephen Temple, seventy-five, and Cynthia Fredrick, sixty-five, checked into the Tropical Education Center at eleven Sunday morning. They were in this wooden cabin at the edge of a pond, a nature lover’s paradise, when the unthinkable happened just hours after.


Celso Pott

Celso Pott, Operations Manager, Tropical Education Center

“We had a couple staying with us, checked in yesterday, and they reported that somewhere around three-thirty they were held up on the premises by two armed men. They were put inside their room and their personal items were stolen, cash and electronic equipment. Nobody was aware that it happened. We had several other guests staying with us and we had staff on site. It appears that the robbers gained access through the bushes. The woman told me that she went outside to take a photograph of the crocodile and that’s when she was accosted by the robbers.”


Two men entered the cabin. As they left with cash and items including cameras, phones, tablets and cash, they told the couple that a third person would stay nearby to ensure that they did not raise an alarm. Operations Manager Celso Pott says that the Center has been in existence since 1994 and they have never had an incident like this.


Celso Pott

“It was definitely at random and I believe it was opportunistic because a lot of people traverse the old Western Highway…hunters…I mean we stay back here and we hear gunshots at night. We know when hunters are out. I think it was just a random opportunistic event for those fellows that were probably traversing the old Western Highway.”


It is believed that the two robbers entered the property through the old Western Highway which borders it. They made their getaway through that same route. It is believed that the men laid their bicycles across the road to stop a red pickup being driven by Jorge Cruz Lopez. Lopez was shot to the back, and one of the men allegedly put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun snapped repeatedly and that is when Lopez chopped the man across the arm. The two men then jumped in his vehicle and drove off towards the George Price Highway. Shortly after, Police would receive a report that a male person was at the K.H.M.H. seeking treatment for a chop across the arm. They responded immediately.


Edward Broaster

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Regional Commander, Rural Eastern Division

“He inflicted a chop wound to one of the suspects who is at the K.H.M.H. under Police guard at this time. Our investigation is ongoing right now and more than likely we will have the suspect who is at the hospital charged for robbery, attempted robbery, aggravated assault and what have you.”


That man under guard is allegedly Adolphus Palacio Jr., no stranger to Police. Palacio was arrested for attempted murder in 2014 after he allegedly shot a B.D.F. volunteer in La Democracia. The incident has galvanized the management of the Tropical Education Center and additional security protocols are being put in place.


Adolphus Palacio Jr.

Celso Pott

“We just actually finished a management meeting and we are going to improve our security to try and minimize this. We are out here in the wilderness. Actually the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is about wildlife conservation, it’s about wildlife habitat management, wildlife habitat preservation, and this is what the people we have coming to Belize want to experience, and this is what we have to offer them. So as management we have put in place additional security measures to try and minimize these sorts of incidents. I mean, this could happen to anyone in Belize. We have people right around here get hijacked in their homes.”


The Center evacuated all guests on Sunday night, just out of an abundance of caution. Police are seeking one other person in the broad daylight, brazen robbery and shooting. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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