Was Relative Responsible for Cayo Killing?
This weekend, the 140th and 141st murders for the year occurred outside the city. The first occurred in San Ignacio, the second in Dangriga. Monica Bodden found out why Rene Vera's relatives say he was killed by one of his own kin.
Here's her story from San Ignacio:
Monica Bodden Reporting
36 year old Rene Vera was found dead inside his home in Santa Elena Town-His body was discovered by one of his room-mates on Saturday morning.
He was lying in a pool of blood inside one of the bedrooms with 9 stab wounds to multiple parts of his body.
Erin Gillett - Niece of Deceased
"When I found out about my Uncle, I was in Orange Walk, and we found out Saturday evening when one of the roommates got home. He texted everybody and we got a text saying Uncle Rene died. We didn't believe it, so we called and confirmed it. We rushed down, and on the way there, they told us that they found him in the next room - not his room - and he was on the floor in a pool of blood."
But what took place inside Vera's house is still left to be determined by police. Cups were found on his dining table, which may indicate that Vera had company over. Speculations are going around town that Vera was murdered by one of his family members. We understand that the man was detained for questioning yesterday by San Ignacio police.
Another Stabbing Death: Griga
And while that is believed to have happened sometime Friday night - by Saturday night in Dangriga another man had been killed - and he was also stabbed to death.
His name is 23 year old Robert Alexander Pinnock Jr. The Lakeland area resident allegedly got into a misunderstanding with Glenford Chavez who stabbed him in the chest.
Pinnock was rushed to the hospital, but died while receiving treatment. Chavez has been detained pending charges.
Shooting Victim Will Lose Eye
When we left you on Friday night it was with the news that a Belize City tradesman had been shot in the eye. Well tonight, the good news is that he is in stable condition and is expected to survive.
38 Year old Keyron Ysaguirre was shot at 7:15 pm as he was riding his bicycle on Mex Avenue. A man in a black shirt started to chase him and fired several shots hitting him in the eye. Reports are that Ysaguirre - who is a well-known plumber - will lose his eye, but he will survive.
His family declined comment. Reports are that Ysaguirre - who is not known to be involved in any gang rivalry - may have been the victim of mistaken identity - but police are not commenting on that. Neither do they have anyone detained.
Who over opened fire was serious, as six Expended 9mm shells were recovered from the area.
Man Rear Ends Bus, Dies
On Saturday morning the perils of random bus stops and early morning partying were brought into sharp, tragic focus when a 23 year old lost his life in a massive rear end collision.
At around 5:30 am before sunrise, Patrick Escalante, Jr was travelling in his Nissan Pathfinder just a half mile from his home at mile 4 on the Western Highway when he crashed into a Westline Bus - which was parked on the edge of the road, but not off the road. No one in the bus was hurt, but Escalante suffered major trauma.
The police explain that they arrived at the scene and found his body on the ground:
Raphael Martinez - Police Press Officer
"This happened at approximately 5:30 in the morning. Police visited the scene on the George Highway between miles 4 and 5. Upon arrival, they saw a Green and White International Bus L/P# SI-D-00235 on the extreme right side of the highway. It was parked facing Belmopan. The bus received extensive damages to its entire rear portion, and also seen was a Grey Nissan Pathfinder SUV L/P# BZ-C-32315 directly behind the bus facing the same direction.
Police Arrest One For Raheem, One Wanted
Just last week we were suggesting that police were "clueless" about the current crime spree. Well, today they came back strong, charging four persons for four murders.
In first and most recent case, 23 year-old Cassian Bennett, aka Cassian Gentle, is on remand after he was taken to court for the murder of 19 year-old Raheem Requena.
As we reported, Requena, who was a 4th form student at Excelsior High School, was riding his bicycle on Kut Avenue at around 8:10 p.m. on December 19. He was on his way to his grandmother's house when a gunman ambushed him and shot him 8 times.
He was rushed to the KHMH, but he died during treatment. Police say Bennett - who is linked with the Southside Gangsters and another man from Casar Ridge road are responsible for the killing.
Bennett was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, and remanded to prison until January 30, 2013, his next court date. But his family is upset because according to them, police manufactured evidence against him, and they refuse to look at concrete evidence which clear his name in relation to this murder.
Duo Charged Double Murder
You may vaguely remember the double murder which occurred at the dockyard on North Front Street on October 25, which left 43 year-old Robert Young and 35 year-old Frank James dead. Well, 20 year-old Ernest Thurton Jr. and 22 year-old Jasper Brannon are at prison tonight in relation to those murders.
As we reported, both Young and James were at the dockyard, and at around 11 p.m., they were ambushed by gunmen. Young was shot twice to the head, and died on the spot. Police believe that James realized what was happening, and he tried to escape, but another gunman ambushed him and killed him on the street.
Well, police conducted a two month investigation, and this weekend, they charged both Thurton and Brannon. They were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith who remanded them to prison until January 31, 2013.
Month Old Murder Solved
And in relation to the final case for which police have made arrests, 20 year-old Ibrahim Smith is on remand for the murder of 22 year-old Williams Felix Francis.
One month ago, Francis was at his brother's house on Mahogany Street when a gunman shot him twice in the left hand, once to the left side of his chest, once the back of his neck, and once in the right eye. He died on the spot.
Police investigated for a month, and over the weekend they charged 20 year-old Ibrahim Smith.
He was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith, who remanded him until January 31, 2012.
If the name Ibrahim Smith seems familiar to you, it should. Viewers may remember that he was charged with attempted murder in April 2012 for the shooting of Desmond Gonzalez.
He was also charged in November of 2010 with manslaughter for the shot gun killing of 17 year-old Shenelle Reyes.
Easy Glen Escapes Charges, Says Politics As Usual
Easy Glen and his alleged partner in crime James Swazo, the Chainsaw man, were the hottest names in news last week. UDP Senior Minister Michael Finnegan accused the Port Loyola pair of hustling money in his name.
Finnegan alleged that Easy Glenn was allegedly calling heads of Government Departments and business establishments imitating him and asking for financial assistance - which Swazo and another man would go and pick up.
They were detained in Orange Walk last week and today James Swazo was charged for two separate counts of obtaining property by deception. The first is from Tony Griffith on the 30th November. Griffith is the owner of Belize Waste Control someone pretending to be Michael Finnegan instructed him to make out a check for $1,250 in the name of James Swazo. He found out three weeks later that Finnegan had made no such request.
And then one week ago on the 17th of December 2012 about 1:30pm, someone pretending to be Michael Finnegan called his business and requested financial assistance of $450.00bcy to hold a party for some workers who painted the Albert Street. Salvador Habet Jr. assisted with only $300.00 dollars and arrangements were made that James Suazo would pick up the money. So Suazo as the bagman was charged, but Easy Glenn is out of detention, and police explained why...
Supt. Alden Dawson
"From what we have here in Belize City, there is absolutely nothing against Mr. Adolphus. They've been picked up by Orange Walk Police, and he's since been released by CIB."
Young Girl Kills Tommy Goff
Tonight 12 year old Latisha Gonzalez of Cotton Tree Village -is lucky to be alive - after she and her family claim she was bitten by one of the world's deadliest snakes: a fer de lance snake which is known locally as the yellow jawed or Tommy Goff.
Now, we know that the byte from a Tommy Goff can cause death, but on Wednesday evening Gonzalez fought back. She says she was walking home and was bitten twice by the snake, which is when she picked up a stick and killed it, then took it home.
Now, we could not see the snake, because it is long gone but her family - which has some experience in such matters confirm that it was a Tommy Goff. Gonzalez was rushed to the Belmopan hospital and today 5 days after her incident, she told 7news what happened.
Latisha Gonzalez - Bitten By Snake
"My aunt asked me to paint, and I went to help her. Her little son was out here on the street. She sent me to go get him, and I was walking in the middle of the road. I didn't the snake, and I just stepped on it. It bit me. My aunt's little son was coming close by the snake, and I warned him not to come closer. I grabbed a stick and hit it about 10 times. My brother came, picked up the dead snake with a stick, and showed my aunt. My aunt told us to get to safety because that snake is a dangerous one. My mother and a friend took me to the hospital."
"So now, I understand that it was a yellow-jawed 'tommy goff' which bit you. Did you feel any sickness or weakness after?"
"No, ma'am, and I wasn't really scared. I wasn't really sure what type of snake bit me."
The fer de lance is considered especially dangerous because its bite causes hemorrhaging. It is the most dangerous snake in Central America.
The GSU and the Special Branch continue to compete to see who can make the bigger busts more consistently.
Recently the Special Branch ahs been coming on strong and continued its streak today with marijuana and ammunition discoveries.
The first happened on Saturday afternoon, when police searched 25 year old Micheal house's home in Coral Grove, and found 223 grams of cannabis - about half a pound parceled off into 20 bags.
Also present were 20 year old Lester VERGO, and 21 year old Melchizedek SILVA a student. All three were charged for "Drug Trafficking".
And then on Saturday evening, at 6:45pm Special Branch led police to an abandoned lot in the Martin's area, which led to the discovery of a white plastic bag contain: (7) .9mm live rounds of Ammunition.
Half hour later, Special Branch again led Police to another abandoned lot in the Yabra area near to the beach side, which turned up a Water Bottle with 65 live rounds.
From Belize To Sandy Hook
If you've been following the news in the US, you probably know about the mass shooting which occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut which, according to reports, left 28 people dead, 20 of whom were school children.
Well, on Saturday night, the Jasmine Alert, which was set up in Belize to sound the alarm for missing children, held a candle light vigil in solidarity with those victims, and in memoriam to all the people lost to violence in Belize, including children.
These ceremonies were held in all over the country including Belize City, where 7News attended.
We spoke to the coordinator, who told us about its importance:
Pastor Henry Brown Sr. - Coordinator, Belize City
"The purpose of this vigil is to bring to the forefront the many murders which have been happening in Belize City, especially among our young people. Our biggest concern right now is about the children of Belize, because we're seeing how many of them are being abused and violated. We want parents and all relevant authorities to take note and take up their responsibility to protect and preserve the lives of our children because they are the future of this nation."
The ceremonies were held for one hour starting at 6 p.m. in designated parks in Corozal, Orange Walk Town, Belize City, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, Placencia and San Pedro.
Giving Purpose To "Boxing Day"
Boxing day is on Wednesday. The term originated centuries ago in England where it is believed to have referred to a custom of the wealthy putting donations in boxes for their less privileged employee.
In Belize though, there actually used to be boxing matches on Boxing Day. Like the sport of Boxing in Belize that custom has faded away but one promoter wants to bring it back.
James Adderly has organized a ticket of international boxing bouts at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel for Wednesday, Boxing Day. A delegation from Mexico is coming to Belize to square off with the athletes from the Leopold Smart Boxing Gym.
We caught up with James Adderly, the organizer, beside the ring as they were making final preparations for the show tomorrow.
Here's what he told us about the event:
James Adderly - Organizer
"We have a big show planned. Belize vs. Mexico has always brought a lot of interest from the Belizean public, and we want to deliver the same excitement every time. So, you'll meet us here. That's our ring behind us. It has certainly cost a lot of money, and it has taken a lot of money and effort.
Police Show Love In The Hood
And while the GSU and the Special Branch may do the high profile police work, perhaps even more important is the Community Policing Unit. Every year, the build overcomes the Department's Goodwill deficit by giving back to needy sections of the community with Christmas Hampers for deserving families.
7News caught up with them while they were making their rounds on Saturday in Lake Indpedendence, and they told us that due to funding, they've had to cut their donations in half, only reaching out to 60 families.
Here's what one of the coordinators told us about its importance, evena s they fight to keep the effort going:
WCpl Hortence Hernandez - Community Policing
"This is an annual event where Community Policing comes out, and we give food hampers to very needy families. We target familes such as single mothers with children at the back here who are presently unemployed."
"About how many donations are you distributing this year."
WCpl Hortence Hernandez
"Well, this year, we're doing 60 compact food hampers."
Street Sentiment Mixed At Christmas
Word on the street used to be that "things dread this year." But that was in about 2007; in 2012, "dread" is the new normal - and - as they say - to explain is to complain, so most folks just push on through.
But with so many years of hard times - we wondered today "how di Christmas di cohn" this year. Our associate, Giovanni Brackett, hit streets to sample public opinion about what it's been like.
"Well the Christmas is coming fair enough. I see a lot of Belizeans on the sidewalk, so it has to be a Merry Christmas for Belizeans this year."
"How will you spend the Christmas tomorrow?"
"Well hopefully, I spend it with my family, and have things to eat. That's what Christmas isall about."
"How is the Christmas coming for you?"
"It's going good; I can't complain. I am doing a little bit of work; I'm trying to give the people a little bit of music."
"How will you spend the Christmas tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow, I have to say family; I'm a family man. So, I have to keep it with family and friends."
All Of The Lights
And so we end this Christmas Eve newscast... From our 7news family to yours, we hope you have a blessed, safe and fun Christmas and that the warmth of family and good cheer of the season find you wherever you are.
We leave you tonight with images of those folks in the city who love Christmas so much - that they don't care how high their light bill goes in this festive season. Those light shows make us all feel a little more Christmassy and we pay homage to a few that caught our eye this weekend...
We also have footage from Corozal's Municipal Christmas Parade which happened this weekend with pageantry and the rhythm from the country's best marching bands...
Enjoy! And join us back here on Thursday...