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Nov 23, 2022

A Mental Patient is Gunned Down in an Officer-Involved Shooting

Francis Ramos Jr.

There was a mid-morning shooting incident in Belize City that brought everything downtown to a screeching halt.  Vehicular traffic was diverted away from the Swing Bridge, where the body of a knife-wielding man lay motionless near its northern approach.   He has been identified as forty-eight-year-old Francis Ramos Junior, an individual who is believed to be mentally challenged and has run afoul of the law on previous occasions.  Ramos was killed by a policeman who reportedly acted in self-defense when law enforcement officers were summoned to the area based on complaints from the public.  Amateur videos of the incident are in circulation and we warn our viewers that what we will show you in the following story is graphic in nature.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on the scene shortly after Ramos was fatally injured by gunfire and files the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

When Francis Ramos Sr. visited downtown Belize City this morning, he did not imagine that he would encounter a distressing incident on Swing Bridge.  His eldest son, forty-eight-year-old Francis Ramos Jr., lay dead on the pedestrian crossing.  He was mortally wounded during an officer-involved shooting moments earlier.


Francis Ramos Sr.

Francis Ramos Sr., Father of Deceased

“My son, I love him very much no matter what the problem was and I am really saddened by what happened and I really gotta see into it and get more information, so I could tell you guys what’s going on.”


Isani Cayetano

“Mr. Ramos, I understand that you were visiting Belize and you were scheduled to leave the country tomorrow.  Share with us, notwithstanding what has happened this morning, your immediate reaction, considering the fact that you wouldn’t have wanted to see your son in that state before leaving the country.”


Francis Ramos Sr.

“I sure won’t. No matter what the situation is, that’s my son and I always wanted [what’s] best for him.”


It is believed that Ramos’ namesake suffered from mental illness.  Sometime around ten a.m., he was in the vicinity of Albert and Queen streets wielding a large knife menacingly towards passersby, when police were called to that location.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“As you would have seen this morning, there was a very unfortunate incident that took place on the Swing Bridge whereby a gentleman, Mr. Ramos, lost his life.  And so we want to extend our condolences, I am sure he has a family and we want to extend our condolences to his family.  Very difficult circumstances, no doubt, I think you can assess from all the footage that has been provided so far that there was a standoff with several police officers.  Mr. Ramos was in fact armed with a large knife and there were several attempts that were made to kind of calm down Mr. Ramos and I think one of the officers even fire three warning shots at the feet of Mr. Ramos.”


Those rounds, however, did not deter Ramos who advanced towards the officers still brandishing the edged weapon.


Kareem Musa

“After those warning shots, Mr. Ramos then advanced to the officers.  I think it was three of them, one in civilian clothing.  And thereafter, like I said, advancing in a very threatening and menacing manner and unfortunately, the police officers had to do what they had to do in the circumstances, not just to protect themselves, but the public at large.  This is downtown Belize City, it could have gone, a lot of people could have been injured and in the circumstances, I think the police did all that they could have done.  They tried their best not to make that happen.”


Since relocating to the United States thirty-five years ago, Francis Ramos Sr. hadn’t been home.  During that time, his son, who was also living abroad, had been deported to Belize and living as a vagrant.


Francis Ramos Sr.

“I saw him when I first came here, we communicated for a little bit and then I left.  Coming back this morning, I was about to meet with him and this is the news that I got.”


Isani Cayetano

“I am still trying to, myself, process what has happened here in the context of you as a parent witnessing your son lying dead on the bridge at the hands of police officers.  We’ve seen a video or several videos that showed us what took place.  How do you come to terms with this knowing that you’re leaving the country or do you extend your stay to deal with what has happened here?”


Francis Ramos Sr.

“I will extend my stay and find out exactly what’s going on and deal with it the best way I know possible.”


Despite amateur footage of the incident being circulated, the question tonight is whether the responding officers could have treated with the situation differently, without having to resort to lethal force.


Kareem Musa

“None of those officers woke up this morning and said, “You know what, I want to go and shoot someone on Swing Bridge today.”  That’s not what they want to do, but in the circumstances to protect their own lives and the lives of others, they were forced to do that.”


Isani Cayetano

“Critics would argue, nonetheless, that because it would seem that this was a mental patient or someone struggling with some kind of mental issue that the matter could have been dealt with differently.”


Kareem Musa

“You know, I think it certainly brings into sharp focus a very deep issue that we have with mental patients, especially in Belize City.  There is a need, I think we all recognize that there is a need for a facility where we can have these individuals go and to receive the necessary treatment and attention.”


Isani Cayetano 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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