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Sep 6, 2021

B.D.F. Soldier Killed by Lawmen in Santa Familia

Jessie Escobar

There is public outrage over the killing of a B.D.F. soldier in the village of Santa Familia – but it wasn’t at the hands of Guatemalan bandits; in fact, it was a fellow soldier on a joint patrol in the village that raised his long-arm rifle and fired a deadly shot that caught Jessie Escobar to the chest.  The twenty-nine-year-old was killed in front of his wife and their two-year-old daughter.  It was all caught on camera and tells a different story from a leaked copy of the purported statement made by the officer.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

What was a peaceful Sunday for the Escobar family in Santa Familia Village in the Cayo District ended tragically just after seven o’clock that night.  Jessie Escobar, his wife, their daughter and two of his friends went to Branch Mouth Stop and Shop Store, a short distance from the family home in the village. Within minutes, a verbal exchange between Escobar and a B.D.F. and police joint patrol ended with one of the soldier pointing his rifle at Escobar and shooting him dead. An employee of the shop shares a firsthand account of what happened.


Voice of: Employee, Branch Mouth Shop

“The police told him put on your [bleep] mask. He didn’t pay attention to the police and just watched the police. When the police told him again to put on his mask, then I came up to him and told him well put on your mask fi make dehn be no problem. And he said alright I will put on my mask. He put on his mask. And then two of the others came out and they had their mask on but they take it down and the police say, unu noh understand to put on unu mask? Then one of them was trying to curse him and then the police came and say, you don’t talk to me like that and things like that and he bat him here on his head. When Jesse came out from the shop and is saying what is happening here when Jesse reached, he just walked towards the police, but he didn’t touch the police. When the police shot the first warning, it didn’t go up.”


A leaked copy of the purported statement recorded by the officer, Juan Carlos Morales says that he along with two B.D.F. soldiers, Corporal R. Alcoser and Private R. Valencia were conducting foot patrol within the village when they came to the store. He says that the deceased is his cousin and then goes on to say that the men carried pint bottles in their hands and were not wearing their masks properly. After informing them of the offense they were committing, he says that Escobar and his friends claimed to be members of 18th Street. According to Morales, he proceeded to detain all men, but while trying to do so, they grabbed bottles and attempted to hurl missiles towards the lawmen. This is when he drew his police-issued weapon and fired a warning shot, but the firearm did not go off.  The statement continues to say that Escobar threatened to take away Private Valencia’s firearm and despite warnings for him to back down, Jessie advanced so Valencia fired a shot that caught the deceased on the chest. The entire ordeal was caught on camera and most of what has been recorded by Officer Morales contradicts what was captured on surveillance footage.


Voice of: Employee

“He stop when the shots came out and then he says, if you want to shot me, shot me. And then he moved towards the police. But the police were not close to him; he was far from him when he just put like two steps towards the police, the other soldier shot him there.  Took her daughter and take the daughter inside. And I went inside and lock the door. Then we see they were pointing at the other guy and tell them to kneel down and stay there and don’t move meanwhile the body was throwing blood from his nose, from his mouth. I don’t know. I am still in shock of that.”


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The B.D.F. soldier fired one single shot which caught the individual in the left chest. The person fell to the ground and to his death.”



“Sir is it disturbing that in the video law enforcement is heard saying, “next boxer, next boxer?”


Chester Williams

“Of course. It is disturbing. Some of the comments used prior to and after the shooting are damning and those are things that we are looking after. The file is being compiled and will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecution Office for guidance as to how we will deal with the matter.”


Today, his brother, relatives, and other villagers were at the cemetery making preparations for Escobar’s final resting place. Arwin Escobar says he heard the gunshots and later found out that his brother was the victim.


Arwin Escobar

Arwin Escobar, Brother of Deceased

“I heard some gunshots. I told my wife, I think dah di bar. And when I went out, I saw my sister crying and she told me they just shot Jesse. To me, lotta things come to my head and I went there. When I got there, his body was still on the ground. So when I went there, I actually wanted to ask – because I know the police officer, not too good, but I worked with him already. He was a good distance from me and I wanted to ask him what happened, who killed my brother? When I came to see what happen, dehn buss shots again. I don’t know it was to the air, because it mi dark, or towards us.”


Social media is abuzz as residents express outrage about the shooting. ComPol Chester Williams says that after viewing the circulating video, he believes that the use of force was unjustifiable.


Chester Williams

“In my humble opinion, it is not justified. I believe that the force was to some extent excessive. But like I said before, it is a matter for the D.P.P. to decide. It does not mean that because the force is not justified simply means that it is murder. Unjustified force could also mean manslaughter; it could also mean manslaughter by negligence.”


Jessie was enlisted with the Belize Defence Force for nine years and had been working with the Light Engineer Company. Duane Moody for News Five.


Reports reaching News Five is that on Sunday night, following the shooting death of Escobar, the Santa Familia home of police officer Juan Carlos Morales was burnt down.

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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