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Aug 2, 2022

Hopkins Day is Marred by Another Mass Shooting

What began as a cheerful observance of Hopkins Day ended in bloody mayhem, as bodies were strewn across the dance floor inside a nightclub and injured patrons were being carried out to waiting vehicles.  It was a horrific scene similar to mass shooting events we’ve observed in other countries, including the United States.  The only other time such an incident has occurred in Belize was in 2008, when gunmen rained terror inside the Putt Putt Bar and Grill, leaving behind a trail of casualties in their wake.  On Sunday morning, Wabinaha Nightclub in Hopkins came under siege when three gunmen let loose a deadly spray of bullets inside a crowded dance.  Ten persons, including three police officers, and a fifteen-year-old minor were injured.  When the smoke cleared, two men laid dead on the dance floor.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has been following the tragedy and has our first story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The carnage that brought to a bloody end a festive Hopkins Day celebration is the second mass shooting event to be recorded in Belize.  On Sunday morning, Wabinaha Nightclub was alive with music and dance when a trio of gunmen entered the establishment.  What happened next was unthinkable.


Francis “World” Nunez, Eyewitness

Francis “World” Nunez

“When I stepped inside, this guy just… I see this guy put his hand in here and started to fire shots.  I’m next door, I am close to him.  I don’t even know him, but it’s a red skinned guy.”


That description matches twenty-eight-year-old Brian Andrews, one of three shooters who stormed the premises and unleashed hell on its patrons.  Police Commissioner Chester Williams:


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Sometime after one a.m. this morning, there was a dance at the Wabinaha Nightclub here in Hopkins during which time there was some altercation between a young man and a group of men from Sittee River Village.  This altercation, from what we have learned resulted from a woman.”


That unnamed individual was along with twenty-three-year-old Noah Moro, a resident of Roaring Creek Village.


Chester Williams

“Apparently there was a woman with the now deceased Moro and the young men from Sittee River Village were courting the woman and the guy Moro went to inquire from them what the issues were.  That turned out into an altercation between them after which the gunmen left and briefly came back to the nightclub.”


Francis Nunez, whose brother is the proprietor of Wabinaha, continues his account of what transpired.


Francis Nunez

“I slide underneath to cover myself, to shield myself.  I went underneath the pool table inside.  When I hear the gunshot, I said, “Oh my God, I get shot.”  Underneath the pool table, and I feel myself like that.  I feel myself.  I said, “Oh my God, why? Why? Why?”  This what I am saying underneath the pool table, and a Spanish boy came to rescue himself too.  And, you know, for me to cover, I pushed this guy with my feet.  I said, “Get out, boy, [from] underneath the pool table.”


The active shooters took aim at their quarry, slaughtered him and then began firing indiscriminately inside the nightclub.  Patrons scrambled for cover, as the bloodbath continued.


Isani Cayetano

“Describe to us the aftermath, then.  After the shooting, the bodies, the people who are injured, describe that to us.”


Francis Nunez

“Sir, that I don’t know.  I can’t reveal to you, with principle and respect, but what I see [was] that this person is shooting in the, among the, in the audience.  Ih just shoot.  That’s all I see.”


The toll, when the shooting subsided, left ten persons injured; Moro laid dead.  Beside him was fifty-six-year-old Emilio Garcia, a Honduran national who migrated to Belize many years ago.  The well-known contractor was simply out to have a good time when he was mowed down in the hail of bullets.


Evan Castillo, Friend of Deceased

Evan Castillo

“Friendly person, father, friend, whatever.  He’s always there mein, he’s always there to help out people, especially the poor people who were struggling. I come da GariMaya this morning fi deliver my wines and I get the message that Emilio get passed away in the accident in Hopkins here.”


Isani Cayetano

“How are you processing this?”


Evan Castillo

“Mein, tight, really tight because I got wah situation home with my wife as well and now I come fi hyah that my own best friend, closest, closest friend, get killed eena di mishaps.”


Eight others, including three police officers, were injured during the deadly shooting.


Chester Williams

“The eight injured persons were taken to the hospital in Dangriga where they have all been treated and released.  So thankfully, the injuries of those persons were minor and not life-threatening.  Our investigation into this matter continues and we have interviewed a number of persons.  We have assigned senior investigators to the case, headed by ACP Alden Dawson who is the head of National Crimes Investigation [Branch].  We also have elements from the SPU on the ground searching for the three young men who are responsible for this particular incident.  We believe that they may still be in the area.  We have also detained one Canadian and have impounded his vehicle.  From what we are seeing, his vehicle, driven by him, was one of the getaway vehicles for the three gunmen following the shooting.”


On Monday, police successfully apprehended Brian Andrews, twenty-eight-year-old Kenyon Moore and thirty-five-year-old Sherwin Moore.  They were in the company of attorney Oscar Selgado who was in the process of turning them in.  Earlier today, ComPol Williams provided an update on their arrest.


Chester Williams

“We did a number of things to ensure that we secured witnesses, ensure that we secured evidence, ensure that we secured video footage and many other things to compliment the investigation because what we want to do is to make sure that we put together the best possible case, so that when the time for trial comes, we can secure a conviction.  We also installed within the Stann Creek and particularly the Hopkins, Sittee River, Silk Grass area two separate teams from the SPU that were engaged in searching for the accused men.  And so, yesterday, we were on the Southern Highway in the vicinity of Silk Grass when police intercepted a vehicle driven by an attorney and within the vehicle had the three accused men.  They were taken into custody, their attorney was questioned and he indicated that he was about to take the young men into police custody.”


Isani Cayetano reporting for 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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