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Feb 8, 2019

Father and Son Fatally Attacked During Armed Robbery in Buttonwood Bay

Takayuki & Masaki Yanai

A father and his only son came under attack on Thursday night at around six thirty during a brazen armed robbery. The son, a well-liked student of University of Belize, Masaki Yanai, did not survive the gun violence and his father Takayuki clings to life. He is the owner of the Taka Kitchen at the Northern Shops.  Both had just returned home with groceries and were unloading their vehicle when they were pounced upon on Park Avenue. One of two robbers assaulted Takayuki and when Masaki went to rescue his father, the armed robber opened fire. The duo of thieves then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash in a leather bag stolen from the restaurant owner.   News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A father and his teenage son, both of Japanese extraction, are the latest victims of a callous attack on their lives.  Takayuki and Masaki Yanai had just pulled up in front of their home on Park Avenue shortly after six o’clock on Thursday evening and were unloading the contents of their vehicle when they were blindsided by a pair of armed robbers.  There was a brief scuffle between the thieves and the restaurateur and several shots were fired.


Alejandro Cowo

ASP Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Belize City

“What police have gathered so far is that the Yanai family was just entering their family yard located on Park Avenue, Buttonwood Bay and they were discharging some items from their vehicle when they were approached by two male persons.  One was armed with a firearm and a struggle ensued between the father, Takayuki, and as a result the son came to his assistance and that is when one of the male persons fired the shots towards them, causing the fatal injuries.”


Masaki Yanai, an engineering and architecture student at the University of Belize, was mortally wounded after being shot in the upper body.  His father, proprietor of Taka Kitchen at the Northern Shops, was also critically injured during the incident.


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“Police visited the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where they observed two male persons, one by the name of Takayuki Yanai and Masaki Yanai.  Both of them had gunshot injuries to their bodies.  Unfortunately, Masaki Yanai, the younger one who is nineteen years of age, he passed away whilst receiving treatment.”


There isn’t much that we know of the Yanai family, save to say that the father is a hardworking businessman who earns an honest living as a restaurant manager here in Belize City.  His son, a cheerful kid with a keen interest in the art and science of designing and constructing buildings, was a familiar face at UB’s ITVET campus.


Christopher Ramclam, Childhood Friend of Masaki Yanai

“From what I know of Masaki, he is not a person to do anything.  He is very hardworking, he keeps to himself.  He’s been a good friend, we’re more like brothers actually.  We’ve done so many camping trips together, worked together a lot.  Here in architecture, we have a saying that “sleep is for the weak.”  So with all our drawings and stuff, we would stay up together, a group of us, but Masaki was always with us doing these drawings.”


And that is what Masaki’s peers will remember him for, his involvement in the department’s many activities, as well as his brave attempt at saving his father from their attackers.  Today at the Northern Shops, a black ribbon adorns the shutters on Taka Kitchen.


Christopher Ramclam

Christopher Ramclam

“It’s the entire class that is taking this very hard because, like I said, he was a good friend to all of us.  We’re just trying to stay strong for Masaki’s sake.  We know if he was here right now he would want us all to be strong for him.  The only part that makes it a bit easier is to know that he passed trying to protect his dad and the part that also gives us a bit of ease is that his dad is okay.”


During the incident, Takayuki Yanai was relieved of a pouch containing an undisclosed sum of money.


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“I know that a waist bag was stolen from him.  At this moment we cannot say what was the content of the waist bag, but indeed there was some cash.  We cannot tell you what is the exact amount or if any other thing was inside of the waist bag.”



“So is it at this time, do you all suspect that this was a robbery?”


ASP Alejandro Cowo

“Yes, it was a robbery. We’re trying to gather all the necessary evidence to see what led to this robbery and if indeed there was somebody else that was already there looking at their movements and other things.  As we understand, they had just closed the restaurant and they had went to a certain store to purchase some items and that is when they left from there and went to their house when the incident happened.”


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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