On Holy Saturday, waves of concern went out all across the country after news hit the social media that a BDF Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey had been shot near the Western Border in the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. More worrying was the information that he and other soldiers were ambushed by Guatemalan civilians in Belizean territory.

We've been pressing the country's security council officials for details all day, but it was not until a few minutes before the start of news that a press release was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It confirms that the shooting happened 400 meters east of the Belize/Guatemala border in the Valentin Camp area in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve within Belizean territory.

The Ministry release explains that BDF soldiers stationed at the Valentin Camp Conservation Post were on a routine water supply and administration task at about 4:50 p.m. on Saturday when they came under fire from men armed with rifles. The encounter resulted in gunshot injuries to the arms and abdomen of a member of the BDF patrol. The injured soldier was subsequently transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and he remains in a stable condition."

The Valentin Conservation Post, as viewers will remember, came into urgent national focus after Special Constable Danny Conorquie was killed, while on duty, in September 2014 in the Caracol Archaeological Site, which is surrounded by the forests of the archaeological reserve. That conservation post was fast tracked after that, and while it was in construction, a mob of Guatemalan villagers from the Village of La Rejoya aggressed the BDF soldiers shortly after that.

This time around, it is not certain that Guatemalans were the attackers who shot Staff Sergeant Lambey, but because the Guatemalan village of La Rejoya is nearby, there is strong suspicion. Just before the Start of the news, we spoke to Staff Sergeant Lambey's family at the KHMH, and here are those comments unedited:

Daniel Ortiz
"Tell us first of all what is his condition? Where was he injured and what are the doctors saying about that injury?"

Family Member
"His injuries, yes, he suffered 4 gunshot wounds and he is currently recovering here at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. We are very grateful that he is alive as well and he is responding well to treatment and we are very grateful for that."

Daniel Ortiz
"Which parts of his body did the bullets puncture?"

Family Member
"From what I saw, he has 2; one in his upper arm, one in his lower arm, one in his left thumb and also he has one that entered through his stomach and exited out."

Daniel Ortiz
"Now Ma'am, the question on everyone's mind is we've told he was on active duty, he was serving the country in the Caracol area when he was injured. Is that accurate?"

Family Member
"Yes, he was on duty. He was working and he always vigilant, but unfortunately this incident occurred and I would really like that I call on the Minister of Defence, the Commander of the Belize Defence Force and all the necessary people who can do something to ensure that this does not occur again. This weekend it was my uncle, who is more like my father Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey, but then it could have been anybody's love one and the issue, if not attended to, can have some serious effects on this nation."

Daniel Ortiz
"Now ma'am, is there any information that you've been asked by anyone not to release in terms of is it being treated as a matter of national security as far as you are aware that they are saying 'you can't say this any at all.'"

Family Member
"Well I wouldn't say that. There are certain things and we have to go by order of protocol. But as time goes by the media will be hearing about this if the issue is not attended to by the necessary people in command."

Daniel Ortiz
"Just for a quick clarification, as far as you are aware, if any information has come to you, were they ambushed? Were they in patrolling while this happened? Were they stationary? Can you give us at least that?"

Family Member
"From what I got to understand from other media sources and also on social media, they were ambushed. And I believe that necessary precautions has to be taken by the Minister of Defence and also the Prime Minister to ensure that these soldiers they do not get hurt while in the line of duty. I understand yes it's their job to protect and serve, but if you are knowingly going to put these soldiers' lives out there, man, then what? Today it was my family, tomorrow it could be anybody's family."

We have the photograph of Staff Sergeant Lambey, but the family is asking that it not be released because it would put him at risk.

COLA, like the Lambey Family, is demanding that the Government of Belize disclose the full details, and they've condemned the shooting of Staff Sergeant Lambey.

Their press release sent today says, quote, "Under no circumstances do we condone this attack on a valiant defender of our national patrimony." End quote.

Now, back to the Government statement which came very late this evening. It continues, quote, "Immediately upon receipt of the report of the shooting incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made contact with senior officials of the Organization of American States and Belize's Ambassador in Guatemala for them to take necessary action to determine who is responsible for the incident. Details on the outcome of the investigation will be released to the public as soon as the report becomes available."

Channel 7


Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement on the March 26th, 2016 Incident

The Government of Belize has requested the Office of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Adjacency Zone to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the March 26, 2016 shooting incident that occurred 400 meters east of the Belize/Guatemala border in the Valentin Camp area in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve within Belizean territory.

Members of the Belize Defence Force detachment who are stationed at the Valentin Camp Conservation Post were on a routine water supply and administration task at about 4:50 p.m. on Saturday when they came under fire from men armed with rifles. The encounter resulted in gunshot injuries to the arms and abdomen of a member of the BDF patrol. The injured soldier was subsequently transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and he remains in a stable condition.

Immediately upon receipt of the report of the shooting incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made contact with senior officials of the Organization of American States and Belize’s Ambassador in Guatemala for them to take necessary action to determine who is responsible for the incident.

Details on the outcome of the investigation will be released to the public as soon as the report becomes available.