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Dec 27, 2007

Christmas shootings leave one dead, another jailed, cop injured

Story PictureWhile the holidays were relatively crime free in the old capital, separate shootings involving police officers in Caye Caulker and in the Cayo district have prompted internal investigations into both incidents. News Five’s Marion Ali has the story from Bullet Tree.

Corporal Mateo Carillo, Gunshot Victim
“I just have to consider myself lucky and thanks to God because he’s the one who is responsible for our lives. So I would like to thank God for taking care of me.”

Marion Ali, Reporting
Tonight San Ignacio Police Corporal Mateo Carillo is admitted to ward at Universal Health Services recovering from shotgun pellet wounds that shattered the bones in both his arms and damaged his right lung and diaphragm.

Just before two on Christmas morning, Carillo was one in the team of officers that responded to reports that an armed man was shooting at random in Bullet Tree Village. Investigations led them to a home in the village, but Carillo says when the cops pulled up someone ran through the back door.

Corporal Mateo Carillo
“I had a spotlight with me; I managed to see that he had a shotgun in his possession. Myself and another police officer, we pursued him and with assistance of spotlight, I managed to see that he was loading the shotgun. And when he loaded the shotgun he turned around and he opened fire at me, injuring me in the chest and on the hands. At that time to protect myself, I had to fire at him again. I fired one single shot which caught him, I believe, and he fell to the ground.”

Carillo’s bullet hit the gunman, identified as twenty-two year old Louis Martinez, in the pelvis. Carillo, badly injured himself, managed to make it to the police vehicle and both men were rushed to the hospital. But doctors there pronounced Martinez dead on arrival.

Corporal Mateo Carillo
He opened fire first so in self-defence I opened fire. If I hadn’t done that, maybe I wouldn’t be here to tell what happened.”

Gerald Westby, Commissioner of Police
“This only demonstrates the difficulty police have out there to do their job. And we must continue to equip and train them so that they can deal with these situations.”

But as with all incidents involving police officers, an internal investigation has been launched into the shooting.

Senior Supt. James Magdaleno, Special Investigator
“The scene has been processed, a firearm was recovered, allegedly belonging to the deceased.”

Marion Ali
“Was it licensed?”

James Magdaleno
“That has not been confirmed as yet or checked to see if it was licensed, but as part of the investigation, that will be done. The file is being put together, there weren’t a lot of people around, it was at this man’s residence, and those at the bar. So the file will be put together and sent to the Director of Public Prosecution for his directives.”

Investigators also hope that a post-mortem on the deceased will reveal whether Martinez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting. But today the victim’s family disputed the police’s version of events.

Anulfo Manzanero Jr., Uncle of the Deceased
“Well the way how I am hearing the story is that somebody is saying this and somebody is saying that, but actually who knows? Because it could be that the police might have chased him instead of, you know. They don’t know, actually, I think they don’t know who was the guy, so by mistake it was who knows? It could be a mistake.”

Marion Ali
“Those were the only two people in the area at the time though, the police and…”

Anulfo Manzanero Jr.
“Well, I don’t have an idea, but what I really know from the family is that he was along with another guy and the other guy, up to now I haven’t seen his face. I don’t know if the police are doing something, trying to find this guy, but up to now nothing.”

Marion Ali
“So you don’t believe your nephew was the one who shot the door?”

Anulfo Manzanero Jr.
“I don’t believe that because it was party time. I mean, people were celebrating and a lot of drunken people were walking around and who knows? I don’t have an idea.”

The Martinez family told us today, they intend to seek formal charges against Carillo for their loved one’s death.

Esther Osorio, Carrillo’s Mother
“I just felt that my heart got squeezed because I said my son is dead, and more that he lives in Cayo and I live in the north and we scarcely see each other.”

Meanwhile, Carillo’s mother has been keeping vigil at her son’s bedside and tonight she is appealing for the public’s sympathy.

Esther Osorio
“Police men can scarcely have a family also they are—due to their jobs—they are not just eight hour service, they are twenty-four hour service. And that is why many times I say that people don’t understand that because they say policeman just do foolishness. But it’s not foolishness, they try to keep in peace, the people in peace right.”

Doctors estimate that while Carillo will be discharged in three days, total recovery will take approximately six weeks. Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

The second Christmas Day case occurred around eleven-thirty in Caye Caulker village. That morning, forty-one year old Benedict Lopez beat his wife to a pulp and when friends and neighbours tried to intervene, he turned on them with a machete. Someone called the cops and when they arrived they detained the husband. But before he could be put behind bars, the responding officer says Lopez hit him in the mouth and took off. It was only a matter of time before the police found him on the small island, but the officers maintain that instead of surrendering, the villager “menacingly” approached them with a knife, forcing them to shoot him in the foot. The bleeding man was taken to the Caye Caulker Clinic and later transferred to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Tonight Lopez remains admitted to ward under police guard. As soon as he is well enough, he will be charged with the Aggravated Assault of the police officer, the Wounding of his wife, and several counts of Harm for the people he hurt with the machete. Investigators also say Lopez will be additionally indicted for Obstruction under the Drugs Act because when they showed him a suspicious substance they found on him, he grabbed it away and swallowed it. Meanwhile, an investigation to determine if the officer was justified in shooting Lopez continues.

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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