Today there was a disturbing murder at one of the city's busiest intersections: The Belcan roundabout.
A Lebanese - American car dealer was killed as he ate lunch in a well-known Lebanese restaurant in the Farmer's Market compound.
But, it wasn't a robbery - by all accounts it was an execution. We found out more at the scene today:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
The restaurant in the Farmer's Market known as a King Kabob is a popular hangout for Lebanese men, but during lunch today it was a crime scene. A Lebanese American, 40 year old Aziz Dib was killed inside as he was having eating.
Another Lebanese man who frequents the restaurant had just stepped out when the killer stepped in.
Asking to appear off camera, he told us what happened:
Voice of: Patron at the restaurant "A slim, dark skin person who wore a mask went in, emptied the gun and roll out."
Jules Vasquez "So, he just walk in, he didn't demand money?"
Voice of: Patron at the restaurant "No, this is what got everyone wondering what really went wrong; it could be a wrong person, it could be someone else..."
But the killer seemed to have no doubt - he singled out Aziz Dib from other persons in the restaurant and shot him multiple times. Police recovered seven expended 9 millimeter shells from the scene and photos taken by a passerby show that he was shot to the head, and fell to the floor breaking the chair he was sitting on leaving a pool of blood.
Today members of the Lebanese community gathered at the crime scene - as the body was removed by police.
Aziz Dib - who brings vehicles down from North Carolina to sell in Belize - was embraced as a member of their community because his brother lives here:
Voice of: Patron at the restaurant "This person comes and go; he doesn't have enemies, he doesn't have people that travelled with. He brings vehicles to sell and go back. His brother lives here, he has a bodywork shop."
The killing his perplexed Lebanese patrons who frequent the restaurant - because Dib only comes to Belize occasionally - and isn't at the restaurant every day:
Voice of: Patron at the restaurant "It wasn't like he had to be here today, it just happen like that so fast."
So if Dib is not a regular, did the shooter get the wrong man? That is what police have to figure out as they look for a suspect who was most likely a hired hitman paid to carry out another broad daylight at a busy city intersection.
Police have a few leads they are following - but have made no arrests.
Dib had children in North Carolina. His brother in Belize declined comment.
There was another north side execution for the second consecutive day and this incident was not the regular street gang revenge, but by all accounts, a calculated and precise attack on a businessman. His name is Alfred Schakron, the owner of one of Belize’s most successful pawnshops. He was also the second Lebanese businessman to be shot dead in as many days and the police believe that the two incidents are linked. Love News’ Marion Ali has the story in this report.
Coney Drive was cordoned off for an hour today as police processed yet another murder scene between nine thirty and ten thirty. The punctured right rear wheel of this blue SUV and four bullet casings retrieved from the pavement indicated that there were two weapons used. The slugs found their mark on 51 year old Alfred Schakron, the owner of JEC Pawnshop. By an eye witness accounts, it was a deliberate attack. Love News has gathered that a black Ford Escape SUV approached Schakron just as he exited the Body 2000 gym and walked toward his vehicle. As he did, an occupant of the Escape attempted to wrestle him into their vehicle, but he resisted and they struggled. It was when Schakron yelled for help that the man reportedly shot him in the chest, the neck and the left side of his body which caused the fatal wound. Police Press Officer, Raphael Martinez has confirmed that there were two separate weapons used in the murder but they are unsure if there were two shooters. The black Ford Escape reportedly sped off towards Buttonwood Bay after the shooting. The bold attack occurred on a main artery that connects the old capital to the Philip Goldson Highway and across from Kiddies Campus Daycare and Preschool. A woman who was nearby told us that she was alarmed by the brazen attack but that she quickly gathered her faculties and called for help. A man who was at the gym obliged and rushed Schakron in his Toyota Sequoia to the KHMH Emergency Unit. But by then, the businessman was barely alive. Alfred Schakron had just returned to Belize this past Monday. And police say his murder could be linked to Tuesday’s slaying of another Lebanese businessman, car dealer Abdul Mohammad Azziz Dib, who also returned to Belize only recently. But while the police are exploring that theory, Yolanda Schakron, who is Schakron’s former wife and mother of his two children, says she is not aware of that. The murder of Alfred Schakron has hit home for Yolanda, who founded the non-government movement called Belizeans for Justice, to implore the government to crack down on crime and improve the prosecutions branch, is now on the flip side of that appeal.
Estranged Wife of deceased
“I don’t know why this happened, I don’t know who else it will be; I am really scared – this is personal now, my children are now fatherless.”
Alfred Schakron is a wealthy well-known, well-connected Belizean businessman - but this morning all his money and influence could not save him as he was executed in the street.
It happened on Coney Drive in the City's northside - where murders or acts of violence occur very rarely.
Schakron becomes the second Lebanese businessman to be murdered in broad daylight in 22 hours - and his killing appears to have been carried out by other Lebanese.
For many, it is a frightening event - that such a powerful man could have been killed with such ease and impunity. But police say it is an indication that something serious is afoot within the Lebanese community.
Monica Bodden was on the scene this morning and she has this report:
Monica Bodden Reporting
Family, friends and employees of JEC filled the parking lot outside the KHMH this morning -when news broke that businessman Alfred Shakron was gunned down.
His ex-wife and mother of his two children - Yolanda Shakron - had to be consoled when she arrived at the hospital. Shakron's 16 year old daughter was rushed to the hospital by her school teacher. And as she got outside the vehicle, there was an awful shrieking wail from his high school aged daughter.
It was indeed an atmosphere filled with raw emotions of the unexpected. Shakron's white SUV was still parked in the hospital's parking lot - it was in that same vehicle that he was rushed to the hospital.
A team of officers processed the bloody vehicle for forensic evidence.
The broad daylight execution of 51 year old highly successful business man Alfred Shakron happened outside the Body 2000 Gym on Coney Drive.
After his workout, while walking to his vehicle Shakron was attacked. Someone inside the gym heard the 4 shots ring out and quickly run to his aid. It was that same person who transported Shakron to the hospital. For his own safety he asked to conceal his identity.
Voice of: First Responder - Drove Shakron To The KHMH "At the time, when I heard the first gunshot went off, I peeped through the window. 3 gunshots went off after that, and I saw Mr. Shakron lying on the ground. I ran down stairs, picked up him up, and checked his pulse. There was only a minor pulse. I picked him, put him in his vehicle, and drove him to the KHMH."
Marion Ali - Love News "While you had in him the vehicle, speeding over there, was he talking to you? Did he tell you who did this?"
Voice of: First Responder "None at all, he never spoke. He gave no response at all, none. Even when I helped to take him out of the vehicle, he didn't respond; he was basically gone. Before I got down, the vehicle sped off, but the way the vehicle was positioned, I couldn't see. That was because of the verandah, and the way they parked. After the first gunshot, I said, 'My God, they shot that man. When I looked outside, there were 3 more shots."
One observer from around the area on Coney Drive told us he saw when Shakron walked to his vehicle- and then observed a Black Ford Escape SUV pulled up beside him.
The person said that Shakron and the occupants of the vehicle had a verbal exchange in their language and then one of the men inside the vehicle attempted to drag him inside their vehicle.
Shakron yelled out for help two times -when the first shot went off hitting him in his left side. The men then exited the vehicle and opened fire - shooting Shakron in the neck and chest area.
The Black escape then sped off in the direction towards Buttonwood Bay. The eyewitness also mentioned that another vehicle pulled up and three Lebanese decent men came out to observe Shakron's body. They left in haste.
Police believe that the businessman's murder is not a random act of violence nor is it gang retated - instead the murder has all appearances of being an organized hit having to do with a business deal gone bad.
Raphael Martinez - Police Press Officer "Initial investigations revealed that at approximately 9:20 a.m. Alfred Shakron was about to get into his vehicle parked in front of Body 2000 Gym when he was fired upon from another vehicle multiple times, and he was consequently in the neck, chest and left side, which caused the fatal wound. Police have since recovered two expended 9mm shells from the scene, as well as one .22mm shell. Police have reasons to believe that this is not a random act of violence nor is it gang related and that the murder has all appearances of being an organized hit, and having to do with a business that went sour."
Two different types of expended shells were recovered from the scene; a 9mm and a .22 millemeter - which is a clear indication that two weapons were used in the execution.
Still police have not yet confirmed if there were 2 shooters. Police are also investigating the possible connection of Shakron's murder and that of Abdul Aziz Muhammad Dib which occurred yesterday inside the Farmers Market.
And for his ex-wife and mother of his children- Yolanda Shakron - who is a well-known anti violence activist - she told us today that after all her time standing up for justice of others, this one is out of her league.
Yolanda Shakron - Ex-Wife "He is my ex-husband, and the father of my 2 children. I was in my store, Red House, working, and someone came on a bike and said that if I know that they just shot the owner of JEC. And I was like, 'Are you kidding?' So, We called his nephews, and they told us that yes, they shot him. But I didn't know that he had died. First of all, I went to the school to pick up my daughter, but she was on a trip. When I got to the hospital, he was dead already. My son was there. I don't know when this will stop. My children don't have a father now. My daughter loved her dad; he was a great father to them. Even though we were divorced, we remained very good friends. We used to speak almost every day concerning the kids. Mr. Shakron did nobody wrong. Mr. Shakron was a hard-worker. He liked helping people; he had a kind heart. And people will tell you that; it's not because he is the father of my children. I'm asking this government; when will there be changes? What will they do? These are business people getting killed now. For God's sake, we're not safe anymore. I don't know why this happened. I don't know who else it will be. I am very scared. I have stood up, but now, I feel like I am in another league. My children are now fatherless, like so many other children out there."
Alfred Shakron had returned from the US only 2 days ago.
Yolanda Shakron - Ex-Wife "Mr. Shakron had gone to the US; he used to frequent the US for his business. He came back on Monday, and we spoke yesterday at length. He was really happy; there was - I am still in a state of shock. I still can't believe that he is dead."
Voice of: First Responder "Mr. Shakron was a very good man; he was lively. He helped out in any way he could. It's a sad thing that this happened to that man. Whoever did it, I hope that they find them. Belize is getting to a level where I - the government really has to do something because when they come in broad daylight, it's very frightening."
Alfred Shakron lived in Belize for 16 years where he amassed an impressive business empire - including JEC Pawn Shop, Mega Bingo, various prime real estate holdings, and other enterprises.
His name rose to national prominence in 2008 when he swore to an affidavit saying that a PUP politician had hustled him in a land deal. That politician was later charged for theft but the case was thrown out of court.
In an interesting release sent out this evening, the Ministry of National Security is trying to distance itself from the two recent shocking murders of businessmen.
The release says, quote, "The Belize City public is also advised that these two latest hit-style murders do not necessarily reflect the overall mood in the streets of the city with respect to gang gun-related violence."
Anyone with information is urged to call the nearest police station, 911 or Crime Stoppers at 0-800-922 Tips.
Less than twenty-four hours after the execution of Lebanese car dealer Abdul Aziz Mohammed Dib, multi-millionaire businessman, Alfred Schakron was gunned down. Schakron returned to Belize on Tuesday and this morning he went to the Body 2000 Gym. At about nine-thirty, he left the gym and was about to get into his vehicle when a hail of bullets was emptied on him. The chilling murder took place just in front of a pre-school here on Coney Drive. It is one of the most brazen crimes in recent times, which is believed to be linked to the Dib execution. On the streets, there is speculation that the murders will unleash retaliation. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The high-profile execution of millionaire businessman Alfred Schakron, as he exited Body 2000 Fitness Center this morning, has raised concerns among members of the Lebanese community in Belize City. His is the second calculated hit in the Old Capital in less than a day.
Voice of: First Respondent
“I heard the first shot and a young lady said, “Oh my god! They just shoot that man!” I looked outside and three more shots went off at that time. So when I looked outside I saw Mr. Schakron’s body basically lying on the ground out deh soh.”
Schakron, a self-made entrepreneur, had just completed his daily exercise routine at the gym and was heading towards his Toyota Sequoia, which was parked on the opposite side of Coney Drive, when he was approached by what witnesses describe as a black vehicle.
Voice of: First Respondent
“Few people, few of the witnesses out there said he was having a conversation with these people. I didn’t see it. They said he was going back and forth with these people in his language, so more than likely he knew these people.”
It is reported that a possible attempt to abduct Schakron preceded the violent outburst. A police investigation, nonetheless, remains ongoing. Not too far from the scene of the shooting was a woman who works in the vicinity. She later spoke under the condition of anonymity.
Voice of: Second Respondent
“He was down there gasping for breath and I just started asking them to hurry pick him up and take him and [I was yelling,] “somebody call the police” and, you know, I just got frightened. I’m just still shaken, I don’t know.”
An effort by several individuals, who rushed to Schakron’s aid, would prove futile. He succumbed to his injuries, according to his trainer, almost immediately.
Voice of: First Respondent
“Basically, when I took him to the hospital and we tried to take him out of the vehicle he was basically lifeless, you know, nothing moving, no responses when I di ker ahn, no talking. I called out ih name a couple times, nothing.”
Schakron had been expunged in cold blood. He was shot in the neck, chest and left side. At the scene of the shooting, a team of forensic technicians recovered two spent nine millimeter rounds, as well as a point twenty-two millimeter shell. Police Press Officer Raphael Martinez:
Raphael Martinez, Police Press Officer
“This is not a random act of violence nor is it gang-related and that the murder has all appearances of an organized hit, having to do with a business deal gone sour.”
While relatives say that Schakron and Abdul Azziz Mohammed Dib, who was also callously murdered on Tuesday at the Farmers Market, never knew each other, Belize City police are trying to establish a possible link between the two incidents.
“Police are also investigating the possible connection of this latest murder and that of the one that occurred yesterday, on the twenty-third, that of Abdul Azziz Mohammed [Dib], also of Lebanese descent, which occurred, as I mentioned, yesterday.”
Alfred Schakron was a leading figure in local business. At an estimated net worth of twenty-five million dollars, he was also the mastermind behind the Mega-Bingo Jackpot, one of many profitable ventures that he oversaw. He is also the ex-husband of Yolanda Rodriguez, who, up until recently, was known as Yolanda Schakron.
Yolanda Rodriguez, Former Wife of Alfred Schakron
“I’m still in a state of denial. I’m still in a state of shock. I have two children with him, two teenagers. I went to look at his body and I still can’t believe it, I mean we were divorced but we were still very good friends. I started Belizeans for Justice, I have met so many mothers whose children are fatherless and now I’m in that boat. It’s horrible. My daughter and my son are devastated. I don’t know how we’ll move on.”
In the wake of his murder, Schakron’s various businesses, including JEC & Co. Ltd., remain closed until further notice. Police, meanwhile, are no closer to making an arrest in either of the two homicides. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
Both the murders of Dib and Schakron occurred in heavily trafficked public spaces. According to a patron of King Kabab’s Restaurant, who was present at the time of Dib’s murder, a warrant for the arrest of Khaled Jamil El Turk, which was found at the scene of the crime, had nothing to do with the homicide. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward to assist in both execution-style murders.
Police Have No Leads, No Motive In Schakron Murder
Belize City is still recovering from yesterday's stunning murder of 51 year old businessman Alfred Schakron.
It happened on Coney Drive in broad daylight - and investigators say the fatal shots were fired by men who drove a 2003 Ford Escape. Eyewitnesses told 7news that Schakron and the men appeared to be having an argument in Arabic before the shooting.
But, that is about all that is known tonight. There is no known motive, no suspects and no trace of the vehicle.
The officer commanding Eastern Division Elodio Aragon today told the media they have set up a special multi-department team to investigate.
We also spoke with the Minister of National Security who underscored what a ministry press release said yesterday: that the execution of two Lebanese descent men in 24 hours is not a part of the current crime wave:
Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security "It doesn't appear to follow the pattern of crime that we have been experiencing over the last few months and that this appears to be an act totally out of the norm in terms of the crime that we've been seeing recently and that it certainly appears to us an orchestrated hit against both business persons and we are looking into it to see the possibility of them being connected."
ACP Elodio Aragon - Officer Commanding Eastern Division "We have a small team put together to oversee these investigations especially the two murders that we have had in regards to the Lebanese nationals. We have people from special branch, crime investigations branch, CIU and other personnel are involve in this investigation. We are hoping that we will receive the kind of leads and the investigation will bring about the kind of information and intelligence that we need to begin to deal with this case."
Jules Vasquez "The Lebanese culture maybe somewhat insular secretive and if you are an outsider it is hard to understand or penetrate the inner workings of that fraternity. Is that a difficulty?"
ACP Elodio Aragon - Officer Commanding Eastern Division "It is always challenges in investigations, whether we are dealing with a child, whether we are dealing with groups of people etc. the job of the police department is to carry out the investigation as best as they could, look at working with the community etc. to try to solve these crimes."
The PUP today issued a release condemning the Ministry's statement as "callous and insensitive" and showing disregard for the loss of life.
Alfred Schakron's funeral will be held at the Divine Mercy Church on Saturday. From there his body will be taken to Lebanon for burial.
As we reported last night, Schakron had been in Belize for 16 years where he amassed an impressive business empire, complete with prime real estate holdings.
He had recently married a new wife Zeina Schakron, after finalizing a divorce with Yolanda Schakron now Yolanda Rodriguez.
He was the father of two children.
Police say full investigations into murder of Lebanese businessmen
Elodio Aragon Jr.
The ruthless executions of businessmen Abdul Aziz Mohammed Dib and Alfred Schakron in Belize City on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning have rocked the Lebanese community across the country. Both men were victims of what appear to be carefully orchestrated hits. Forty year old Abdul Dib was shot multiple times inside King Kabab Restaurant whilst seated with three other men having coffee. A lone gunman entered the premises and unloaded a barrage of bullets into the auto dealer, killing him instantly. Less than twenty-four hours later, as popular businessman Alfred Schakron was leaving Body 2000 Gym, he was accosted by a group of men inside a sports utility vehicle. During a brief scuffle in front of the building several shots were fired, mortally injuring Schakron. To date there have been no arrests in either cases. While the Police Department is exploring a possible connection between the two murders, additional officers will be deployed in the Old Capital this weekend in an attempt to thwart further reprisals. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon Jr., a full investigation, involving all major task forces within the Belize Police Department has been launched.
Elodio Aragon Jr., Assistant Commissioner of Police
“We have people from our Crime Investigation Branch, people from CIU and other personnel are involved in this investigation and as time proceeds, we are hoping that we will receive the kind of leads and the investigation will bring about the kind of information and intelligence that we need to begin to deal with this case professionally.”
Jules Vasquez, 7News
“Sir, are you concerned about further retaliations? Not to speak ill of the dead, but we know that Mister Schakron had relatives who are Belizeans and they certainly have their own network of affiliates in Belize. Are you concerned that there may be further retaliation or retaliation I should say?”
Elodio Aragon Jr.
“At this time it is hard for us to tell you definitely that if that will be a case or not because the investigation is still ongoing—we still need to get to the bottom of these things; to look at motives, etc. All I could tell you at this point in time, the police department will be mounting special operations over the weekend to ensure that we keep the level of crime as best as we could down. I could tell you that these two incidents, with the Lebanese, these are not incidents that occur every day. We do not see it as incidents that will be predominantly seen every week on the news. As far as we know these are not normal and therefore the investigation continues to see what it is all about.”
Patrick Jones, Love News
“Are you getting information; is information forthcoming in your investigation?”
Elodio Aragon Jr.
“We are working as information comes to us and we are able to gather it.”
“Is there some type of a limitation so far as the Lebanese culture may be somewhat insular, secretive, and if you are an outsider, it is hard to understand and penetrate the inner happenings of that fraternity? Is that a difficulty that will hamper an unimpeded investigation?”
Elodio Aragon Jr.
“There are always challenges in an investigation whether we are dealing with a child, whether we are dealing with groups of people, etc. The job of the Police Department is to carry out the investigation as best as they could working along with the community, etc, to try to solve these crimes. And that is what the Belize Police Department Eastern Division will be doing in regards to these two murders.”
“These two murders are without a doubt frightening in addition to the crime wave that we know exists in Belize City. What can you say to the Belizean people to allay their fears about their own safety?”
Elodio Aragon Jr.
“Well the way you put it; we have to really listen to what you are saying—that there is a serious crime wave. If you look at our statistics when it comes to murders, Belize City is down when it comes to murders compared to last year. Secondly these murders that we have seen are not our everyday murders; the gang rivalry that we see in our streets. So these are special cases that the police department is looking into. And all I can tell the community out there is that the police department is working hard to solve these crimes and we will continue to do so.”
Schakron was a prominent businessman who owned various businesses, among them is Megabingo which airs on this station.
Police investigating murders of Lebanese businessmen
ELODIO ARAGON, Jr
Police in Belize City is appealing for the public’s assistance in their investigation of the murders of businessmen Abdul Aziz Mohamed and Alfred Shakron. The two men of
Lebanese extraction were shot and killed within twenty four hours and the police have gone on record as describing the two homicides as, quote, “hit-style murders,” end of quote. The Ministry of National Security in a statement to the media on Wednesday said that the killing of Aziz and Shakron is a marked departure from the overall mood in the streets with respect to gang-related violence. Minister Saldivar expanded on this train of thought.
Officer in Charge of Eastern Division Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon Junior told reporters that investigators are pursuing all leads in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent further possible reprisals that may endanger the general public.
ACP Aragon says the police will continue to investigate, not only the two recent murders, but also other crimes, which he described as opportunistic crimes.
Anyone with information that could assist the police in arresting the person or persons responsible for the murders of Abdul Aziz Mohammed and Alfred Shakron is asked to contact the nearest police station, the 911 hotline or Crime Stoppers at 0-800-922-8477.