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May 25, 2016

Suicide at Queen Street Precinct: On-duty Police Officer Shoots Himself

Edwardo Gonzalez

Today, the Belize Police Department is reeling from the sudden death of one of their own, Police Constable Edwardo Gonzalez – not in the line of duty, but allegedly by his own hand. The terrible, shocking tragedy unfolded at the Queen Street Police Station in the early hours of this morning, when the quiet was shattered by the sound of one gunshot. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Today, the police flag on Queen Street is flying at half-mast and a black bow greets all who enter the building. Both tell the tale of a tragedy which at least right now defies understanding and explanation. At around one forty-five this morning, PC Edwardo Gonzalez shot himself in the head with his private weapon, in front of two brother officers on these steps as they worked the night shift.

 

ACP Dezerie Phillips, Regional Commander, Eastern Division North

“Investigation revealed that Police Constable 944 Edwardo Gonzalez, a thirteen-year veteran Police Constable was seen lying in front of the Police Station with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to the head. He was quickly rushed to the K.H.M.H. where he succumbed to his injuries at around three o’clock this morning. From what we were able to gather so far, Mr. Gonzalez was on duty at the Police Station along with other Police officers. He was standing outside conversing with two other police officers, and it was at that process of conversing with them that he reportedly took his licensed firearm and fired one single shot to the head.”

 

A logical assumption would be that something in that conversation that morning would have given some clue, some hint whether overt or subtle, as to the intention of Gonzalez in that one fateful moment.

 

ACP Dezerie Phillips

“That’s the troubling part. Like I said, he was just being himself. He was joking with them. It was just a split-second. Something…in the split-second of a moment. He was laughing, talking with them. One went inside the Police Station to get a cup of coffee while leaving the other one having a cup of coffee with him, and that just happened.”

 

According to ACP Dezerie Phillips, nothing in the three years Gonzalez had been working at that precinct suggested that he was troubled or in need of intervention.

 

Dezerie Phillips

ACP Dezerie Phillips

“PC Gonzalez is a police officer who has worked in different fields within the Police Department, in different districts and different units. We have had the pleasure of working here with him for maybe three years and we have known him to be a very happy, jovial, friendly person, always joking around. It is very shocking to all of us. The entire Police Department is saddened by his passing. We are very devastated.”

 

…devastated, and trying to deal with it as best as they can. That includes counseling for the two officers who witnessed the suicide, provided by the Employee Assistance Program under the auspices of the Ministry of the Public Service.

 

Edwardo Gonzalez

ACP Dezerie Phillips

“I think what can be learned from situations like this is that we can never underestimate a person’s pain or hurt, because the truth and the reality is that everybody is struggling with their own battles and their own issues and like I said earlier if you don’t speak out about what is bothering you, then the help for you is limited.”

 

Edward Broaster

ACP Edward Broaster, Regional Commander, Rural Eastern Division

“He was very jovial and so forth, so it is very difficult for us at times to identify when officers are going through problems. Nonetheless we have a very effective Employee Assisted Program through the Ministry of the Public Service where we have a cadre of counsellors that are provided for officers who we believe need counselling and some of them who would volunteer to be counseled as well. As a matter of fact there were two officers who witnessed the shooting and already Ms. Phillips will be able to speak to this that we have had counselors brought in and are counseling them. But we can only do so much and identify certain problems but there are some underlying problems that we may never be able to identify and get that person help.”

 

For now, there will be more questions than answers – but no amount of either will bring back the life lost this morning.

 

Edwardo Gonzalez

ACP Dezerie Phillips

“Unless there are warning signs to indicate to you that something is wrong, then there isn’t much that you as a person, as an organization and as a department can do, and this is one of the cases we have on our hands. I know that in circumstances like this the overriding question will always be why. Is any of us in any capacity to truly answer that question? I don’t think so. So the why will remain for a very long time.”

 

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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5 Responses for “Suicide at Queen Street Precinct: On-duty Police Officer Shoots Himself”

  1. Hatari says:

    A very tragic situation indeed but there is more to this story that what is being told so far.

  2. Elgin Martinez says:

    Sad story these guys are overworked under payed and no one cares about their welfare.RIP Brother you’re in a better place.

  3. CEO says:

    Why not make it mandatory for all police officers to get counseling at least once every 3 years and/or also for every officer that are involved in any shooting or any other crime scene where there is a loss of life or serious injury. This approach would open the door for those who would not otherwise seek counseling perhaps because of the stigma or the perceived lack of machismo that would keep those that need help away.

    These guys are under much stress: family stress, low wages, doing a very dangerous job without the proper personal protective equipment.

    A sad situation!

  4. Dedo says:

    This story fishy ” boaster try investigate this further”

  5. Reality says:

    The police department should look into the matter because this does not sound like suicide, it is more like murder and the two should be question right now and not counsel. Ask families and friends about him if he had any problems. Suicides is the easiest way to close the case

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