Who Put A Hit On The PM’s Law Partner?
Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams is clinging to life tonight at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami Florida after he was shot in an apparent execution attempt last night. In a crime climate where overstatement is the norm, there is simply no description for this crime: it is so brazen, so daring, so lawless, so without precedent that it has left the wealthy section of the Belize City community stunned to the point of stupefaction. Williams is known as one of the most successful and well regarded attorneys in Belize -practicing in mostly civil matters, not known as a barrister to defend controversial clients with underworld connections. But, regardless, someone wanted him dead and it is widely believed that they put out a hit on him. Last night at five minutes after eight two men carried it out in front of his office.
Here's what happened.
Jules Vasquez, Reporting
Police blocked off the street at the corner of Albert street and Ferrell's lane in front of Barrow And Williams last night while a scenes of crime team scoured the area for clues. Williams was walking with a security guard up the sidewalk the roughly 100 feet from his office door to his vehicle, this Range Rover which was parked in this tree-covered area. The attack came from the opposite side of the parking area. Two men one of them with a gun rode in through the side from Cockburn lane and accosted Williams and the guard right here at the grill entering the parking area. They searched the security to see if he had a weapon. He did not, and the gunman then very deliberately shot Williams in his midsection. They escaped into Cockburn lane. This is the bike they are believed to have used. It was left on Cockburn lane parked beside the ACC fence. The bike was labeled as evidence.
Police did not find any expended shells here where the shooting occurred. This area is where they washed the blood from the street. You can see how close it is to the vehicle - of course that is the proximity his shooters relied on - they presumably used the cover of the parking area to waylay the senior counsel.
Williams was taken to Belize Healthcare Partners where he was listed in critical condition with internal bleeding and injury to his major organs. Dozens of friends of the well and widely liked attorney including his long time law partner, the Prime Minister gathered while Williams underwent emergency surgery inside. The Prime Minister left after midnight when surgeons had to take a break because Williams' vital signs had become unstable during surgery. This morning the PM visited again and left for Belmopan after a few minutes inside. Press Officer for Healthcare Partners Collet Montejo gave us a briefing.
Collet Montejo, Press Officer for Healthcare Partners
"The family of Mr. Rodwell Williams had asked that we give the media a very brief statement. Basically there is a multi-disciplinary specialist team that is working with him, different specialists not just one specific specialty. He left the ward a few minutes ago. He is now in ICU, he is in a very critical and unstable condition and we anticipate that we will continue to work the best we can. The family is presently making preparations to fly him out to the United States."
Marion Ali, Reporter
"What were they faced with when they brought him here last night?"
"We've been asked not to respond to anything else but just to stick to the brief statement and so we have to stick to that for now."
Rhenae Nunez, Reporter
"Can you at least describe his injury."
"Again, he is in a critical, very critical and unstable condition."
"How many bullets wounds?"
"That I would think once we get everything setup we will be able to respond far more to your questions. We will be updating you guys a little later on this afternoon. But for right now that's all."
"How long did the doctors worked on him last night?"
"It was all night. It's been all night and up to this time that's why the doctors are not making a statement because they are all very busy still working on him."
"Can you at least say what they have been successful doing so far?"
"Yes, they have been successful in stemming the bleeding and that's all I can say."
First, a few notes on his medical condition. At first, doctors were reportedly unable to stop or source the bleeding, but during a follow up procedure performed this morning, they were able to do that. This afternoon Williams was sufficiently stabilized to be flown out to Miami for treatment. At 3:20 with a cluster of close family and friends around, he was taken out of the hospital in a stretcher and loaded into a waiting BERT ambulance. From there, he was taken up to the Phillip Goldson International Airport, where a private jet was waiting to fly him to Miami. Escorted by his wife, Felice he departed shortly after 4:00. According to our sources, the gunshot damaged his internal organs and because of that his prognosis is very guarded. However, according to Health care partners public relations officer Collet Montejo this evening, his condition had become significantly more stable this afternoon and, he said quote "We think he'll live."
So Rodwell Williams is tonight fighting for his life - one of Belize's most eminent attorneys - the PM's law partner of twenty one years, a father of three girls - a man most would agree is untouchable. But last night, none of that mattered; he was shot at close range to the midsection; a kill shot, but somehow he survived, even as his hold on life is tenuous at this hour.
The PM speaks about his “Dear Friend”
As we said, it is truly stunning, and a sign of a one more disturbing sea change in an already deadly crime climate. Today at a press conference to announce a cabinet shuffle designed to deal with that crime climate, the Prime Minister discussed his friend's plight. He opened up by saying thanks.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Of course I would like to start by asking all of you to pray for my law partner Mr. Rodwell Williams.I also want to - I have not been authorized to do this - thank the doctors who struggled all of last night to save his life. They did a wonderful job and those heroic efforts continue through the present time. The hope is that he can be taken abroad if he can sufficiently stabilize. They have been very serious internal injuries and it really is touch and go. Anybody who knows Rodwell will know what absolute wonderful human being he is. I am sure that I do not ask in vain when I ask that you all pray for him. I will simply say that the police have some persons of interest to whom they are speaking and it is my hope that they can quickly get to the bottom what is on the face of it so brazen and brutal and vicious. I hope that very soon the police will be able to tell us not only who did it but why. There has been no better friend to me, no more self sacrificing individual that I know. It has hit me hard, but I pray to God that he will make it."
The Prime Minister also discussed the circumstances of the attack on his law partner. It has to be placed in the context of April 15th, 2010 6 weeks ago when before 8 in the morning, a projectile was launched through the second floor window of the Barrow and Williams firm. No one was hurt and the nature of the projectile was not confirmed, but it was widely believed to be a bullet that smashed two windows of the firm's library. Was that related to last night's attack? Today the prime minister would only say that Williams was not robbed.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"In the circumstances it doesn't appear that it was a robbery attempt, nothing was taken. So I really am reluctant to speculate too much but certainly it does not appear that robbery was the motive. There was a security that was hired, that person was unarmed. I don't know if it would have made any difference if he had been armed. As I understand it the two attackers held them up and searched the security guard to make sure that he wasn't armed and then simply shot Mr. Williams."
Two persons of interest have been detained; they are reportedly from the general area. Those comments were made at a previously planned press conference to announce the first cabinet shuffle of this UDP administration. We'll have the full details on that in our second segment.
TWO MEN DETAINED IN CONNECTION WITH OVERNIGHT SHOOTING OF RODWELL WILLIAMS
June 01, 2010
Attorney at law Rowell Williams, who is a senior counsel and the law partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow was shot in the abdomen around eight o’clock last night on Albert Street. Williams and an unarmed security guard was walking on Albert Street West when they were approached by two male persons of dark complexion on a single bicycle. One of the men searched the security guard and thereafter pointed a shotgun at Williams and fired a single shot at point blank range hitting him in the abdomen. He was transported to the Belize Healthcare Partners Limited where he went under surgery at about 9 o’clock last night. Today Love News spoke with Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“It’s been one of the worst periods I have ever had to go through in my life. I have been lucky up to this point in time in that I have lived a life that has been relatively free of trouble. I got to the hospital just about after 8:00, I saw him, he was still conscious at the time. I understood from the doctors just how serious the thing was, he had been shot at point blank range and while there was no great excess of external bleeding obviously the internal bleeding was terrible. Stayed there until they had completed the first surgery, went home I think at about 1:30 just to get a call just within an hour thereafter to say they have to take him back into the theatre. I stayed there until five, I went home came back just before 8:00 to hear that they had to take him into the theatre again. I mean it has really been a roller coaster ride because every time one operation is finished and you begin to hope that he has stabilized you hear that the internal bleeding has started again profusely, that his vital signs are beginning to be affected and you start fearing the worse.”
This morning Collet Montejo, Public Relations Officer at the Belize Healthcare Partners Limited told the media that Williams was listed in a critical and unstable condition and was getting prepared to leave the country. Williams was flown out the country at 4 o’clock this evening to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“As I said the air ambulance is now on the ground. The only question is whether he is stable enough to be able to withstand the two hour ride. Medical personnel are with the ambulance. They were trying to get some platelets from Chetumal and those cannot come until six in the evening and the ambulance can’t wait that long but I understand the doctors are trying other ways to make sure he is as stable as is necessary to be able to make the trip safely. I just pray God that that is how it will work out.”
So far two people have been detained by Belize City police in connection with shooting of attorney at law Rodwel Williams.