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Sep 18, 2023

Mother Murdered; Common-law Husband Shot Up in PG

Dana Gonzalez

The sound of gunshots permeated the dead of night on Far West Street in Punta Gorda Town in the early hours of Saturday morning, as a woman and her common-law husband were targeted during a shooting. When the shooting subsided, thirty-five-year-old Dana Gonzalez lay dead, and twenty-two-year-old Gustavo Mendez was critically wounded. The report is that a man on a bicycle wearing a jacket with a hood pulled over his head fired the deadly salvo. But several witnesses saw a tattoo on his neck and that gave the police a lead to go on. Today, Gonzalez’s mother and her best friend told News Five how much the incident has permanently changed their lives. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
Thirty-five- year-old Dana Gonzalez, a mother of a ten-year-old girl was shot dead in the wee hours of Saturday and her common-law husband, twenty-two-year-old Gustavo Mendez, is fighting for his life after both of them came under fire around the lane from their house in the Hollywood area of Punta Gorda. The incident happened shortly after two, just after the couple had left a wake. Her best friend, Vernessa Santos was at the wake with her.

Vernessa Santos

Vernessa Santos, Friend of Deceased
“Around seven, soh, me and she decide we’re going to the wake for her family that died. So me and she went to the wake together, and when we were at the wake, we sit there and stuff. She went and buy her cigarette, you know, she loves her cigarettes. So I get a text like 11 o’clock and I say that I got work. I tell ah, “Girl D, I got work, soh I nuh wa heng long.” So I tell ah I gwein get food fi my sister. She said, “Okay, I gwein get food from Miss Ellie.” She went for her food and I went and I went to pick up my food, but before I left, she said “Remember, I gwein see Shannon.” I said, “Okay.” So she said, “Tomorrow, right,” she said, “me and you wa continue collect donations for the float.” I never know that wudda be the last time I mi wa see my friend.”
Dana’s mother, Pietra Jacobs told News Five that she has to be strong now for Dana’s only child, a little girl age ten, and for the rest of the family.

Pietra Jacobs

Pietra Jacobs, Mother of Deceased
“I believe in our God and I believe he has the whole world, and I have a granddaughter. She died and left a 10 year-old, so I have to be strong for her and I have other kids too. So I put everything in God’s hands. I know my daughter is a person who nuh have problem with nobody. Everybody loves her. I just think she must have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Later on Saturday, a group of neighbourhood residents took to lighting tires on the street to demand justice. Santos told us that this is the second time they have lost a resident within a short span to gun violence, and this time it has created a void.

Vernessa Santos
“It really touched all of us because my best friend’s cousin died by gunshot, and we never get no justice. So when Dana died, we just start the fire because we need justice. She’s like a leader of Hollywood. You need anything, if someone dead, me and she party, me and she cook together, me and she do everything together. Dana is like a second mom to my kids. If I want to travel from here to Belize City, I say, “Please babysit for me,” and she says, “Okay, send her,” especially my last son, they had a bond.”


Dana Gonzalez was, by all accounts, a community activist who wanted better for her neighborhood. Allen Nunez said she was an example for the children.

Allen Nunez

Allen Nunez, Friend of Deceased
“She’s always, always active in the community, always around any celebration, any function that you know, has to do with fundraising for an event. She’s how we’d say she go above and beyond.”


On Saturday night, the community attended a candlelight vigil in her honour at the same court where she had spearheaded many community events before.

Pietra Jacobs
“We put some candles, with pictures, with flowers and we do a march and we went to the spot where the the incident happened.”


Dana Gonzalez was spearheading an effort to have a float in Thursday ‘s Independence Day parade. Those plans will carry on but with a specific and relevant message to the community.

Vernessa Santos
“We wa still do the float and anybody who is willing to donate in her honor, my number is 611-22 30. I appreciate it, just in honor of Dana. Wi float wa be against gun violence, stop all the gun violence.”
Marion Ali 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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