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Jun 25, 2019

Manhunt for Murderer of Mario Graniel and Dr. Gary Swank Underway

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and the top brass of the police headed to San Pedro today in the wake of the double murder of a tour guide and US doctor vacationing in Belize. The men were fishing at sea when they were shot and killed on Sunday. While Doctor Gary Swan was an unsuspecting visitor on a fishing trip, the tour guide Mario Graniel was a wanted man. Police are hard pressed to solve the murders and are combing the island thoroughly looking for evidence. Family and friends today reflected on both victims. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.


Theodore Lennon, Friend of Mario Graniel

“When I heard it I said main, I said are you serious? He said, yes they killed Mario. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even talk.”


Gary Swank & Mario Graniel

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Those are the words of Theodore Lennon, a close personal friend of fifty-three-year-old Mario Graniel. The well known San Pedro tour guide was in this “Johnnie G” skiff along with fifty-three-year-old American doctor Gary Swank when they were both killed on Sunday morning.

The men were out fishing, a mile west of San Pedro Town when a gunman in a separate skiff opened fire. Both men sustained several gunshots wounds. Graniel was found dead behind the steering wheel of the skiff while Dr. Swank was found floating in the lagoon.

Today, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and top investigators were on the island, meeting with local police as the investigation into the brazen double murder progresses.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Whenever we have any major investigations as the Commissioner I do play a part in providing guidance to the police in ensuring that we what needs to be done in order for us to have a successful investigation at the end of the day. The matter with this double murder in San Pedro also has international implications. It is not to say that anyone life is more important than the other but you would understand that there are certain cases that do require additional effort because what you want to establish first and foremost is why, how and who?”


Investigators know the “how.” They have a primary suspect and, while several theories have been floating around as to the motive, investigators are still working on establishing a definite motive.


Chester Williams

“The investigators are collecting the relevant information that they need to collect, recording statements and interviewing people. That is going well for us at this time. We are not yet where we want to be but I am sure that with time we will get where we want to be.”


Hipolito Novelo

“A primary suspect has been identified?”


Chester Williams

“Yes, we have. We are currently in search of that person.”


That person is said to have already fled the island but police are taking no chances. More officers have been deployed to the island to assist in the investigation and the manhunt for the murderer.


Chester Williams

“The person whom we are looking for, from what we have gathered, is no longer on the island. That is just information. We will still do what we can to see if he is still on the island and try to flush him out. We have also put out information to our respective police station across the country to see if they will be able to find, to look out for that person in their respective police jurisdiction.”


Graniel is said to have been involved in a “beef” with one of the island’s notorious gang figure. The first attempt on his life is said to have happened at his home in the Boca del Rio area sometime between Friday midnight and early Saturday morning. This nine-millimeter shell is said to have been left by the gunman, along with bullet holes on the verandah and above Graniel’s front door. As much as four shots were fire. The gunman is said to have perched himself on the fence, and fired the shots. Security cameras attached to the building captured a slim male with his faced concealed with a hoodie, firing at Graniel’s apartment.


Mario Graniel

Chester Williams

“Police have received that footage and I am not going to go further in commenting on that.”


Theodore Lennon

“I know Mario and Mario never do anybody wrong.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Do you know if he ever had any problems with anyone on the island? Did he speak of that?”


Theodore Lennon

Theodore Lennon



According to Lennon, Graniel was scheduled to leave the island on the day he was killed, en route to Corozal for a dart tournament.


Theodore Lennon

“The only leaving we know about was to go to the tournament and when they canceled he tell my other friend that called me that he had a job, that he can go and work.”


That work came in the form of Dr. Swank. Graniel was contracted by Dr. Swank to go fishing. As for Dr. Swank- he was a victim of circumstance. Doctor Swank was an interventional cardiologist and worked at the Carilion Clinic in Virginia. A statement from the Swank Family reads “His senseless murder has left us to mourn a purposeful life ended too soon. Gary was an incredibly driven individual, both professionally and personally, and we were blessed to have been a part of his life. His death will be felt throughout the community, as he was a physician, caregiver, teacher, mentor, avid outdoorsman, neighbor, colleague, and friend to many.” Officials of the US Embassy in Belize are working with police.


Chester Williams

“We are working very closely with the US embassy. They have two representatives in San Pedro who are working with us with the view to see what guidance and expertise they can offer to the investigations.”


In the meantime, Commissioner Williams says that San Pedro residents can rest assured that they are safe.


Chester Williams

“I am sure that the citizens of the island do feel safe. The police in San Pedro continues to conduct their regular patrol. The conduct and engage in operations in various hot spots and that is not going to change. Yes, we are going to beef up our presence. We have sent out additional officers to the island to see how they can complement the officers who are already out here. Coast Guard is also sending out couple more officers to be able to patrol the maritime domain and so we believe that moving forward we have things in place to ensure that the residents of the island stay safe.”


Hipolito Novelo, 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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