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Aug 10, 2021

Teen Gun Deaths Becoming All Too Common; Public Veers between Outrage and Apathy

Laddie Gillett, Shamar Nicholas and Kwamie Williams: three Belizean teens recently gunned down.  Sadly, they will not be the last young men to make the headlines. Tonight, in the first of a two-part investigation, Paul Lopez goes looking for answers to the painful question: what, if anything, can we do as a society to better protect our Belizean boys?


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The deaths of three teenage boys over the last three weeks, has prompted a wider discussion on the need for greater child protection. Although they were killed under differing circumstances, Laddie Gillett, Shamar Nicholas, and Kwamie Williams all died before fully experiencing their youth.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“One of the officers fired a single shot. The shot caught one of the individual who were running. The person who was shot was later identified to be a fourteen-year-old.”

ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, Communications Director, Belize Police Department

“Matthew Gutierrez, twenty four years, was walking on Kraal Rd when he was approached by Shamar Nicholas, sixteen years. Unfortunately, Nicholas opened fire on Gutierrez who was transported to the K.H.M.H. and succumbed to his injuries.  He came across officers who were on duty, on that same street, this time he was not that lucky.”


Alejandro Cowo

Supt. Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Eastern Division

“On Thursday night just after nine p.m., a minor by the name of Kwamie Williams was walking on Gumagarugu Street.  While he was walking, he was approached by someone who fired several shots at his direction causing his fatal death.”


Nicholas is accused of murdering twenty four-year-old Matthew Gutierrez before he was shot by police. The minor’s parents were not there the morning of the shootout; they only received the news after their son’s death.


Voice of: Zelmar Nicholas, Mother of Shamar Nicholas

“I can’t say if it true or not, let God be the judge of that. Only he sees and he knows what happened that morning.”


Kwamie Williams was also gunned down while alone. It is a common practice for teenagers to traverse the streets without parental oversight, in certain neighborhoods where families are not expecting harm to come their children.


Zaline Williams

Zaline Williams, Mother of Kwamie Williams

“You know teenagers these days, they always want have their own way. And, when they don’t have their own way they do and say things. But, we as parents have to know how to deal with them. The only thing he like do dah guh and come in late. He like walk late.”


Laddie Gillett’s legal guardians where not with him when he was shot by police just after the adult curfew of ten p.m., not the children’s six p.m. curfew. But they knew he was only a short distance away in Placencia. Sadly, Laddie’s death revealed a tragedy that can occur in a split second, even when parents believe their teenage children are in safe surroundings.


Emil Bradley

Emil Bradley, Legal Guardian

“We have pictures that they were right on the beach. It is something that they usually do. They usually hang out. They were sitting right there on the beach. It is somewhere that we consider somewhere to be safe in Placencia. It is the reason why we go down there.”


The question then is how much oversight is enough when it comes to the protection of our children?  To get some answers, we turned to the National Committee for Families and Children.


Margaret Nicholas

Margaret Nicholas, Executive Director, N.C.F.C.

“I believe sometimes when children are on their own; sometimes they tend not to remember what some of the instructions of the parents are. On the other hand, there are no parents. Many a times, children are living with a sibling and there is no real direction. I say this because I feel strongly that parents do have that first responsibility.”


Paul Lopez

“What sort of protection does a curfew hour specifically for children offer?”


Margaret Nicholas

“The thing is, I believe it offers protection for them. Personally I don’t believe that children should be on the streets at night time period. I think children should be at home.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


Tune in on Wednesday night for part two of Paul’s report on crimes involving youths as he tries to find out what can be done to stem the violence. 

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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