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#511514 - 02/10/16 04:51 AM Robbery & Shooting at Tropical Education Center
Marty Offline

How I Survived A Gun to the Head

Last night, we told you about the two Canadian tourists who were robbed by 2 armed men who then shot a man and tried to kill him so that they could use his vehicle as a getaway.

Well tonight, a little more is known about the attack in which the Canadians, 75 year-old Stephen Temple and 65 year-old Cynthia Fredrick, were held up in their room at the Belize Zoo's Tropical Education Center, located between miles 28 and 29 on the George Price Highway. The men then fled the scene of the crime on foot, and stopped the first vehicle which came down the dirt road. That happened to be 52 year-old Jorge Lopez. Last night you heard a little of his story in Spanish - tonight we have the gripping firsthand account in English:...

Daniel Ortiz reporting
For the very first time since its doors were opened back in 1994, there was an armed robbery the Tropical Education Center.

Celso Poot, Operations Manager - Belize Zoo
"A little after 4pm yesterday evening, two of our guests staying in one of the guest houses came over to the office and reported to the manager working at that time that they were just robbed at the guest house. Apparently, two mask men entered their house and held them at gun point and robbed them of their personal belongings."

"The Canadian woman had just come out of the house to take a photograph of the crocodile and while she was getting ready to take the photograph she was held up by one of the men with a gun and told not to make any noise and then took them in the house and lock them up in the bathroom and then went through their personal belongings."

That's when the men searched their bags, and found what they thought was valuable, and stole an assortment of electronics and camera equipment.

It is believed that they entered and exited the compound of the Tropical Education Center at this back gate.

Informed sources say that the two armed robbers stood at this area of the dirt road which leads back to the George Price Highway.

That's when they flagged down 52 year-old Jorge Lopez, the first driver to come venturing down the dirt road.

He's a concerned Belizean who thought he was stopping to render aid two honest individuals, and he was rewarded for his kindness with a bullet. He's very lucky to be alive because the robbers attempted to kill him for his truck. He came face to the muzzle of a ruthless gunman, and he only escaped because the shooter's gun jammed when it pressed up against his head.

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"One Jorge Lopez who was coming in his red pickup attempted to render assistance and he was shot, not before he inflicted a chop wound to one of the suspects who is at the KHMH under police guard at this time."

Yesterday, he recounted his that deadly stare down with his would be killers.

Jorge Lopez - Shot By Armed Robbers
"When I stopped, one of them came forward quickly followed by the other. I got out of the vehicle and turned to close the door behind when I felt the shot on my back. I fell to the floor and same one that fired approached me with the gun but it snapped three times. He was about 2 yards away. I pulled out my machete that I keep in the pickup and I injured one of them."

That's when the other assailant grabbed a rock, which he intended to use to bash Lopez in the head, but he managed to fend off that attack. He then instructed the injured shooter to shoot Lopez in the head.

Jorge Lopez - Shot By Armed Robbers
"One of them told the other to shoot me in the head but the gun didn't fire. So they get inside my car and escaped."

That injured man was forced to seek medical attention at the KHMH for his chop wound, and that's how the police found him. He is under guard while the doctors treat him, and as soon as he is well enough, he's going to be facing a slew of criminal charges.

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural
"Our investigation is ongoing right now and more than likely we will have the suspect who is at the hospital charged for robbery, aggravated assault and what have you."

Police continue to look for the stolen red vehicle, a Mazda double-cab pickup truck, which they believe might still be in the possession of the other assailant who escaped unharmed. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this vehicle, or a suspicious one looking like it, is asked to assist the police by passing that information along.

The shooting victim, Jorge Lopez, continues to receive treatment at the Belize Healthcare Partners Hospital, and he told us yesterday, that the doctors aren't sure yet when he might be well enough to go home.

The man he chopped, continues to receive treatment at the KHMH, and though we have his name and photograph, we cannot release it as yet because police are concerned that it could prejudice their criminal investigation against him.

He is expected to be charged with robbery, aggravated assault, and possibly attempted murder. Until then, we're obliged not to reveal his identity.

Channel 7

#511525 - 02/10/16 06:23 AM Re: Robbery & Shooting at Tropical Education Center [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Staff was already in the process of beefing up security, now in place to meet their needs.
Belize based travel specialist

#511539 - 02/11/16 05:13 AM Re: Robbery & Shooting at Tropical Education Center [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Police Say He Robbed Tourists, And Put A Gun To Truck Driverís Head

For the past two nights, we’ve been reporting on the robbery at the Tropical Education Centre, which left 2 Canadian tourists anxious to leave the country, and a man injured in the hospital after the thieves shot him for his pickup, which they used to flee the scene. Well today, the alleged gunman went to court.

He’s 21 year-old Adolphus Palacio Jr., a resident of Mahogany Heights Village, and he’s at the Belize Central Prison tonight. He was taken before the Magistrate Court this evening with his arm heavily bandaged, the injury he allegedly suffered after he shot 52 year-old Jorge Lopez and tried to kill him for his vehicle.

That’s also another loose end that police tied up. They found Lopez’s truck this morning in Mahogany Heights base don information passed to them by a concerned member of the public. It was found abandoned and parked in a wooded area.

Palacio who was under police guard at the KHMH, while his chop wound was being treated, was released into the custody of investigators. They moved swiftly to charge him with 2 counts of aggravated assault, 2 counts of robbery, and 2 counts of conspiracy to commit robbery.

He was arraigned before Magistrate Deborah Rogers this evening, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges. But, because it is a firearm offence, he could not be granted bail. Palacio Jr. was remanded into custody until April 12.

As we reported, Canadians retirees Steven Temple and Cynthia Fredrick were staying at the Belize Zoo’s Tropical Education Centre. Fredrick had only just exited their room, and while she was taking a photograph of a crocodile, 2 men snuck up on her and forced her to open her door at gunpoint. Fredrick and Temple were then locked inside their bathroom, and the thieves used that opportunity to go through their belongings and steal 2 cellular phones and 2 cameras.

They then snuck out of the Centre’s property through the back gate, and that’s when they came upon Lopez. He stopped for these 2 men because he thought that they needed help. He was rewarded for his kindness with a bullet to the back. The gunman then pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger 3 more times, but the gun jammed. He used that distraction to grab a machete which he keeps in the truck. He swung it at his shooter and chopped him on the arm.

The other man picked up a rock and tried to bash Lopez over the head, but he put his arm in the way to deflect the blow. That man instructed the injured gunman to shoot him in the head, but instead he jumped into the vehicle. Both men got in and drove off leaving Lopez on the road where he had fallen.

Police say that Adolphus Palacio Jr. is the main suspect in the attack on Lopez, and he will be investigated for attempted murder and robbery for the theft of the vehicle.

Channel 7


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