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Mar 4, 2020

Social worker killed in the city!

Michael Barrera

A well-known social worker, a counselor in Belize City, was shot and killed on Tuesday evening. He was the first murder victim in a shooting spree on Tuesday evening. From all accounts, Michael Barrera was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Reports are that a killer was looking for his target in the area and when he didn’t catch him, he fired shots that hit Barrera. Police were called out Central American Boulevard around five-forty in the evening where they discovered Barrera lying face down on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds to the body. Here’s the story:


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The very violence that Michael Barrera worked to prevent, took his life on Tuesday evening. The fifty-two-year-old social worker was shot and killed at the corner of Iguana Street and Central American Boulevard in Belize City. The deadly shooting happened just after five-thirty on Tuesday when, according to police, Barrera was riding his bike and the killer approached him from behind and fired the fatal shots. Today his cousin Grace Flowers says, however, that Barrera had left her home to buy food on the boulevard and that he was standing, waiting for his order when he was killed. She believes that Barrera wasn’t the intended target:


Grace Flowers, Cousin of the Deceased

Grace Flowers

“About half an hour after we got the news that someone got shot and I couldn’t believe it was him until we confirmed it but he wasn’t the intended target. He was at the chiney purchasing some food and the gunman chased his target and he got away from him. And then he [gunman] swings around and just put the gun on him and shot him in his back. He was at the wrong place at the time wrong time.”


Barrera was a social worker and spent over three years at the Conscious Youth Development Programme, working with at risk youth. On Tuesday evening, his colleagues were called out to the scene to help identify him:


Marnette Westby

Marnette Westby, Director, CYDP

“We are at a loss. All indications are that he was not the intended target. He just happened to be casualty of war and I think it is hard for all of us. It was a hard reality of where the streets are and what and who can be the casualties. We found it difficult. We were working the streets at the time and found it difficult to continue. But today more than ever you realize that you have to because there are your Barrera’s and your people out there who are being killed and you want to ensure that you try everything you can to mitigate that and to lessen it.”


Barrera lived in the U.S for many years and returned to Belize to settle into a meaningful life. He worked as a social worker with the CYDP where he supported and advocated for the rehabilitation of youth involved in drugs, gangs and violence. To know that he died as a victim of the social ills he dedicated his life to tackle Belize City is a tough one for his family and colleagues to process:


Grace Flowers

“It is a very hard because he is a counselor and he tries to help out all the at risk youth. He did a lot of counseling and he worked along with CYDP until the time of his death.”


Marnette Westby

“He was the kind of person who felt that you must keep going at it even when it got difficult. He always felt that his story and his past was helpful, would be helpful, for those who are struggling with gang and crime and violence because he had once lived the fast life in America and when he got back home his whole life drive was to assist people to get out of that lifestyle. He was very willing member of the team. He was one who whenever you felt that you had a difficult situation, he would always say no man, I could help inna that because I have been there and out me there because I could help out; that was the kind of person he was.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.


Barrera is the father of seven children.

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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