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Apr 29, 2014

Shipyard residents speak out on violence in community

Like Vegas, what happens in Mennonite communities generally stay in Mennonite communities. But one altercation last week has prompted members of Shipyard to come forward and speak out. It’s almost shocking to learn that violence has become a part of daily life in the community. Mike Rudon has the story.



“You’ve seen these fights before?”


Henry Reimer, Injured During Fight

“Oh yes…lots of fights have the guys here in Shipyard.”


Pete Penner, Raised in Shipyard

Pete Penner

“This has been going on for many years. And the elders of the church they set up a meeting with these guys that are excommunicated and with their people. So they had a meeting at the church or the school or wherever it was. And they basically came to an agreement that the violence was going to stop. And these guys were going to stay at their corner – it’s basically like gangs – they have a different group over there and a different group over there. So these guys were supposed to stay over here and do their business over here, and those guys over there…don’t interfere with each other.”


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Last week Wednesday, Henry Reimer and his friend George Petkau were hurt during a fight which broke out at the Petkau’s residence when the Mennonite gangs clashed. It all has to do with who’s accepted in the community, and who’s not.


Henry Redekopp, Evangelical Pastor

“For instance this last outbreak of violence that we had just a week ago…the father is excommunicated but the mother is not and the family is largely disliked in the community, and so their son gets picked on, and his friends.”


Pete Penner

“And what happened was that these guys were at Petkau’s house right on the road-side doing their thing and those people showed up and started fighting again. And the fight broke loose and nobody could separate it so his mom came and interfered and then these guys were chasing her away with a machete. And then the old man, Franz Petkau, he’s in jail right now facing charges for manslaughter…he went and got his shotgun and fired into the air, a warning shot – leave my son alone, leave my wife alone because these guys were attacking his son with sticks and machetes…basically like a swarm of killer bees.”


The Orange Walk Police Department has a totally different version of the incident. They say that young George Petkau was the instigator and the one who had the machete, threatening and aggressing innocent passersby.


ASP Selvyn Tillett, Deputy O.C., Orange Walk Police

Selvyn Tillett

“He started insulting these people for no reason, telling them they better stay there. And apparently he went back to his home, brought back a machete and told them he was going to chop them up. The people they had a struggle, they were able to take away the machete from the man, and Mr. George called for his dad Pancho, Mr. Franz Petkau better known as Pancho. He came down driving his pickup and attacked these two individuals. They were walking away. Mr. Franz was armed with a sixteen gauge shotgun and the people decided to walk away. And then they heard a shot and one of them, Henrich, received abrasions on his right cheek and back as a result of the shot by Mr. Petkau. He was subsequently arrested and charged.”


The Mennonites we spoke to displayed a deep distrust of the Police, who they claim are compromised by the elders in the community. They maintain that those the elders do not like frequently come out on the wrong side of the equation when Police are involved.


Henry Redekopp

“Oftentimes it is instigated by the fathers in the community and when things get out of hand then there are generally a few people that are picked on as the bad guys and the people that are liked they’re supported and everything gets sort of covered up.”


Henry Redekopp

ASP Selvyn Tillett

“This is an ongoing situation for some years now where the Petkaus have been involved in little altercations with people from Shipyard, but many of them talk to the community leaders, arrange it and they don’t want any further action. But it’s not the first time the Police are dealing with the Petkau family.”



“From your tone…is it believed that the Petkau family are the instigators of these troubles?”


ASP Selvyn Tillett

“I’m not saying they are instigators, but I’m saying it’s not the first time we are dealing with these situations…I can’t say they’re instigators but it’s not the first time we’re dealing with such situations involving the Petkau family.”



“In terms of the incident that happened Wednesday…we have been told that the two gentlemen who had the machete chased the mother of Petkau with the machete saying that they would chop her?”


ASP Selvyn Tillett

“That’s your version…but we haven’t heard anything like that…our investigation hasn’t led to anything as such.”


The Police Department maintains that George Petkau attacked two other young men with a machete and had to be subdued.


ASP Selvyn Tillett

“They were on their carriage down the road and stopped in front of the area where the Petkaus lived…when George approached them. And George went back and got a machete and had a struggle with these two persons and they were able to subdue him and take away the machete from him. That’s our version.”


Franz Petkau

That version, unfortunately, doesn’t shed any light on how Henry Reimer just happened to be hit in the head with a flashlight.


ASP Selvyn Tillett

“The situation is that we have made some charges but we are still investigating the situation at the moment…because they have more allegations and we’re looking at it at the moment so the investigation continues.”


Those who have fallen foul of the elders don’t believe there is any such investigation, continuing or otherwise. They are desperate to expose the situation in Shipyard before it destroys the community.


Henry Redekopp

“Evil always escalates when it’s left unchecked. What’s the solution to this? I don’t know. I think that justice needs to prevail but there’s little respect for justice in this community. There would be a high degree of trying to bribe officials…not just trying but actually bribing officials wherever they can to avoid problems. And that’s part of the issue, when you start having that kind of clout where you can actually bribe officials and you can cover up your side of the violence and always make the other side look bad it’s always going to escalate. When you have people like you saw last weekend where a few men get picked on and they’re the bad guys because they’re not liked in communities…what’s going to happen to these young men?”


Henry Reimer has been attacked four times by other young men. The last time he was knocked unconscious. He says the Police have never done anything about the reports he’s made to them. Mike Rudon for News Five.


Franz Petkau has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison, charged for discharging a firearm in public, aggravated assault with a firearm, discharging a firearm while under the influence, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and wounding. News Five attempted to speak to elder and community head Cornelius Krahn, but were told that he was in Belize City.

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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5 Responses for “Shipyard residents speak out on violence in community”

  1. Belizean Pride says:

    one thing that bothers me is to watch the news where the reporter is interviewing a police officer either from the lowest rank to the highest, they seem to lack some training in giving interviews, like if the can’t express themselves, like if they can’t say the right words, like if they are struggling to explain the case. It’s really a shame that these officers can’t express themselves, I guess they should have a spoke person for them to avoid this things, it really looks bad, has anyone notice all the time this thing happens?

  2. tell me it ain't so says:

    Tillet; get your head out of the sand. You know much more than you are saying! You know how frequently your officers and special constables are in Shipyard to stop these types of fights and uprisings. You also know that Franz Petkau is no saint but he has been the target of many an effort by the gangs of young men and fathers. You also know how many times the elders of the community have been in your station to beg that any charges are dropped or thrown under the rug. You know! And your predecessor knows it too. It has cost the community an enormous amount of money to keep these things from being exposed. Time to come clean. This man that is charged is a scapegoat for many of the other investigations when numerous people should have been jailed. Your force is complicit in what has been happening and continues to happen.

    Please Channel 5-do not back off this story. There are many more horrifying stories to be told with lots of others involved. Time to bring the tyranny of this type of leadership to end.

    Anywhere in the world where you have the type of leadership you see in the old colony communities you have large problems. The amount of abuse in these colonies is simply unbelievable. Google; Mennonites in Bolivia

  3. rudy says:

    Your right BELIZEAN PRIDE.. it’s embarrassing watching these police officers express themselves, like they don’t have no formal education ..they can’t express their thoughts but they sure know how to beat the shit out of you and even kill you that they know how to do.. but they… can’t speak for shit…power to the people..out with Barrow and his thieves

  4. Timber says:

    LOL. I’ve been saying this all along. If you can find a few comments under my caption in the latter part of February and in March, I repeatedly stated that we need to educate our officers and encourage more educated people to join the force by offering attractive salaries and better mode of transportation. We need to canvas people who would like careers in police, fire fighting, teaching and offer incentives. I was in Credit Union the other morning and you should hear how ignorant an officer, in his uniform, special patrol unit, sound so ignorant; cursing other patrons and being loud. One thing the police knows how to do is hustle. Ladyville crew is notorious. What prompted some of my comments was when I heard some of the ignorant and irresponsible comments out of Noble’s mouth ; most of which didn’t make any sense. In the US, anyone can join the police or military as long as your record is clean; however, you can come in at a certain level, depending upon your education. If you have a degree, you go to officer training school when you enlist in the military. So, you will automatically have a rank when you finish basic training . We need to start doing this. Give our more educated and ambitious people senior posts and train some of these other knuckleheads who can’t even write or spell.

  5. Belize Bird says:

    Timber, You hit the nail on the head with your comment: “we need to educate our officers and encourage more educated people to join the force by offering attractive salaries”. It seems too often the brightest a best performing officers get tired and go to more attractive carrier opportunities.

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