John Jay, They Reminisce Over You
34 year old singer John Jay Rodriguez was slain on Friday night as he was hanging out at a local gaming shop in Dangriga. It is the second murder of the year in the culture capital, but this one has deeply wounded town residents because the victim, by all accounts, was a law abiding young man and an artist of promise. Emanuel Pech traveled south today and has the story.
34 year old John Jay Rodriguez, was a well-known, well-loved performer. He has released several hit songs, sang alongside local super stars like Supa G and Mika Evans, and has even appeared in a couple of national music competitions. But tonight all that promised is reduced to just another statistic: he was the victim of the second murder in Dangriga for this year.
"It all started with attempted robbery here at the Havana Club and Entertainment Centre. Reports are that sometime after 11 on Friday, 3 men entered the establishment planning to rob the proprietors. What happened next was the last thing anyone expected."
Sup. Roy Joseph - O. C. Dangriga
"Initial police investigation reveals that Mr. Rodriguez was at the establishment at the time when 3 males entered. One was armed with what appeared to be a handgun and demanded that the cashier opened a door. When the cashier refused, the gun men tried to open the door by kicking on it. When they were unable to, the male that was armed, fired a single shot. This shot hit another male who was in the area at the time and it is believed also that that was the same bullet that ended up causing the fatal injury to Mr. Rodriguez. The scene was processed, the injured individual was taken to the hospital and Mr. Rodriguez's body was later transported to the Morgue."
"Sir, to which part of the body was he hit? We understand it was to the face."
Sup. Roy Joseph- O. C. Dangriga
"To the left side of his head."
It was a senseless killing, one that has left the entire culture capital in utter disbelief. But just how close are police to solving this latest homicide? Well it's hard to say because police have yet to detain anyone and are not revealing too much information at this time.
Sup. Roy Joseph - O. C. Dangriga
"This investigation is pretty much in its pupa stage as you are aware. We are following on every lead. So far we have people of interest and we are seeking these individuals, however, no not at this time."
"Were there any cameras inside the establishment or around the area that could assist police in this investigation?"
Sup. Roy Joseph - O. C. Dangriga
"Like I said, we are following up and looking at all angles. Like I said again, the investigation is in its pupa stage and I really wouldn't want to venture deep into the investigation, but we are looking from all angles."
But whatever the results of the investigation might be, for 22 year old Victoria Evans, it makes little difference. She and her 1 year old son, must now live with the fact that their beloved John Jay is forever gone.
Victoria Evans- wife
"I never thought that would happen. The people that John Jay had out there, everyone loved him. When I heard that, I said it wasn't true, but we went to the morgue. We saw him laying down on the stretcher in the morgue."
"What sort of emotions were running through your mind at that time?"
Victoria Evans - Wife
"I still didn't believe. I held his hand and I still didn't believe that it really happened and I said to myself "he will come back". My son got up early in the morning and he know his dad's waking hours, he got up and didn't see his dad. The other morning he was crying for his dad."
While his family grieves, the entire music community in the South grieves along just the same, for it cannot be denied, that John Jay had a positive influence in the community as an artist.
"What sort of impact did he have in the music industry in Dangriga?"
Lionel Lyrical Thompson - friend of deceased
"Vibrant, everybody loved John Jay when it comes to the music here in Dangriga and because of that, it just spread from there. Its like wildfire, it just went all over the country of Belize, ended up outside of the country and everybody knows John Jay. Some of my friends call him from the states crying, I just hear it in their voice saying 'why John Jay, are you sure?', and I said 'Of Couse I'm sure, I went to see him, its him'. He had a positive impact on everybody. With everybody he'd just come and show you love and let you know that if you're not doing something which is not the way, he would say 'bro let's try to do it a next way'. He was all about love and everyone knows that about John Jay."
Big Rift- Artist/ Friend of Deceased
"We actually have a lot of songs together, I've performed with John Jay for almost every September celebrations here in Dangriga along with Nuru and Lyrica. It hurts me a lot that it happened to him."
Silas Sabal - Producer/ Friend of Deceased
"On my part here in Sabal Studio it was very hard for me because on the day that John Jay got killed he was supposed to be here and for some reason he didn't come. We had just recorded a song which is called 'Party Tun Up' and that same day I was getting a lot of calls from DJ's, radio stations, promoters telling me that they liked the song. I couldn't wait to tell him the news, but instead I just got a phone call from one of my friends saying he got shot."
"Party Tun Up" the last song he ever recorded has now become an anthem for his fellow Dangriga Musicians.
Reporting for 7 news Emanuel Pech.
John Jay Rodriguez had plans to travel to Jamaica this August to pursue his music career. But his body now lies at the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital morgue awaiting a post mortem examination. As for the other shooting victim, who was shot through the neck, he remains at the hospital in a stable condition.
Remembering JJ With MusicFuneral arrangements are set for John Jay Rodriguez on Saturday, but the event that many of his friends and fans are looking forward to is the Tribute to John Jay, where his life as a performing artist will be remembered. The organizer of the event is his adopted brother and partner in music Lionel Thompson, better known as "Lyrical." Together the duo called themselves South Blaze. Now the only surviving member of South Blaze is trying to bring together as many local artists who knew John Jay, and honor him through music.
Lionel Lyrical Thompson - friend of deceased
"The artists that are here in Dangriga, the musicians, the band members are going to meet at Slaughter House at 8 o'clock tonight to finalize everything. The artist that I spoke to in Belize City, all the artists that I was able to get in contact with, they already said 'we're coming down and we're going to represent'. For the artists that I didn't get in contact with, its open, you guys are free to come. Come and represent, shout out to the man, sing a couple songs, say something about him, you know how much he impacted you, the love that he spread so just come and give it back. Respect to my brother John Jay, rest in peace, I'll see you again but until then I have to be strong for you, your son and everybody else."
The Tribute concert is being scheduled for Thursday night at Slaughter House Bar and Grill in Dangriga.
Well-known Belizean Artist John Jay is Killed in Dangriga
John Jay Rodriguez
There was another death in the south. A sixteen year old minor is currently detained by Dangriga police for Friday night’s murder of a well known artist in the culture capital. John Jay Rodriguez was killed during a robbery attempt at a gambling den, which he visited routinely on Friday nights. The Dangriga community as well as the music industry is stunned at the loss of one of their own. News Five’s Duane Moody reports on the tragic death of Rodriguez.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Well-known Belizean artist John Jay Rodriguez was murdered on Friday night in Dangriga. Rodriguez was at Havana Club, a popular gambling spot that he frequented, when a robbery at the establishment turned deadly. As he played one of the electronic gambling machines along with three other patrons, three men—one armed with a nine millimeter gun—entered and demanded money, but were denied entry by the cashier on duty. In the aftermath of the foiled robbery, the gunman fired a single shot at the patrons. Thirty-eight year old Stanley Venai was grazed on the neck and he survived, but that same bullet caught Rodriguez on the left side of the face and killed him.
Supt. Roy Joseph, O.C., Dangriga Police
“At eleven-fifteen p.m., Dangriga police were called out to the Havana Game Shop situated here in Dangriga on Havana Street where upon arrival, the apparent lifeless body of a male was observed lying in a pool of blood with what appeared to be a gunshot wound. Mister Rodriguez was at the establishment at the time when three males entered, one was armed with what appeared to be a handgun and demanded that the cashier opened a door. When the cashier refused, the gunmen tried to open the door by kicking on it. When they were unable to, the man that was armed fired a single shot. This shot hit another male who was in the area at the time and it is believe also that that was the same bullet that ended up causing the fatal injury to Mister Rodriguez.”
Victoria Evans, Common-law-Wife
“He mi di lie down on a stretcher. Dehn mi just ker we deh fi mek we gone see ahn and identify ahn and stuff like that. He mi deh ina blood and thing. Ih mi still have on ih working clothes cause ih mi lately come off from work.”
A senseless murder – John Jay was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Originally from Hopkins Village in the south, he was employed at Quality Poultry Products in Dangriga for over twelve years, working deliveries until his untimely death. Black bows adorn the business establishment as employees mourn the death of one of their own.
Jean Boehmer, Quality Poultry Express Chicken
“I have known John Jay all his years here. He was a great worker, he’s a great person. Sweet, loving; always joyful. He did live with my family for six years also during some of his years here in Dangriga. He’s just a wonderful person.”
That is why relatives and close friends rushed to the scene and the hospital in disbelief, hoping that it wasn’t true; that their loved one had been murdered.
“I mi di sleep di time when I get fi find out. I even drop off of my bed and buss my knee and thing. It was shocking. I stand up dah the door fi make dehn tell me weh happen and stuff like that. Nobody couldn’t tell me weh happen and when I come out yah dah then my brother-in-law dehn tell me weh gone on and I neva believe it. I even gone dah the morgue and I mi deh deh di hold ih hand and I still mi can’t believe that he gone like that because when I see ahn that night dah like ih still living and stuff like that.”
Lionel “Lyrical” Thompson
Lionel “Lyrical” Thompson, South Blaze
“We got a text and the text was saying that John got shot and he died, but I didn’t want to believe it. I got one phone call to see if I can get some info on that, but the response was that they didn’t hear anything like that. So I started to wonder a little bit. I got dressed, she called a taxi and at that time, I went on the verandah, was just waiting out and I saw my friend coming around the corner; he works at the hospital. So from the time I saw that vehicle I knew he was coming to see me to tell me the same thing that I was trying to keep in my head it is not so, it’s not so.”
Rodriguez left work on Friday night and was supposed to be at Sabal Studio Productions, but ended up on Havana Street. Along with Silas Sabal and another artist, Rodriguez just recently recorded a hip-hop track for his latest album that was soon to be release.
Silas Sabal, Producer/Artist
“Last two weeks Friday, John Jay was here at Sabal Studio Productions and him, I and also Galiecha the Lion, who I have been working with, we collaborated on a song called Party Tun Up. John Jay was right here sitting on the chair over that corner and while sitting planning this song, I made the beat and suddenly all of us became exciting and we said this song is coming to a reality.”
John Jay rocked the Bliss Stage in 2014 in Channel Five’s If You Can Sing It Bring Season One, making it all the way to the semi-finals as the top four singers in the competition. His passion for music and vocal talent still resonate among viewers and Belizean artists. His music career, however, started from a very young age, when he was inspired by Michael Jackson.
John Jay Rodriguez [August 2014]
“I saw a video from Michael Jackson the first time and that was when I realized that shucks I just love that; that just grab my attention. And so I ventured into try singing with my sisters when I was at home coming up. I say to myself, but I feel like I could sing. I sing ina the bathroom, I sing and everywhere I go, I try do wah lee thing and I just felt that pulling from where I saw that Michael Jackson video. That was exactly when I started to do music and from then I carried on. I did karaoke shows and different things. I won a couple of karaoke shows and also I ventured into getting to meet artists after a while and Supa G. I met different artists like Ras Indio. We did some song; I did songs with different artists here in the country and I was with Supa G for a while.”
That collaboration with Supa G yielded some hit songs such as “Hold You” back in 2005. Hurricane in the Club, Belizean Girls and It’s Over are several other songs with the General himself. It’s a huge loss to Dangriga and the music industry, says Supa G.
Supa G, Belizean Artist
“A huge, huge loss. We really can’t explain it as well, but it is a huge loss not just to the music industry but the entire Dangriga. That’s a vocal genius. John Jay will take any song and make it sound better than you actually have it, you the song writer. An excellent, talented youth; he knows exactly what to do with certain type of toning. He would know exactly how to put it and make it sound much better. We started like in 2002. We did so many songs, but the Hold You was actually one of our biggest collab. Working with John Jay was a great experience because I learnt a lot vocal-wise from him.”
Duane Moody for News Five.
On Thursday at the B.T.L. Princess Royal Park, a Golden Voice Karaoke Tribute in memory of Rodriguez will be held. The body of Rodriguez will be laid to rest in his home village of Hopkins on Friday.