Minor Shot in San Pedro
A thirteen year old student of the Ambergris Caye Elementary School has been shot at her home while she prepared for dinner. Tonight, Meredith Escalante is lucky to be alive but has been left traumatized. Two shots hit her; one on her chest and the other on her face. A duo of young men was seen fleeing the area after at least five shots were fired at the apartment complex where she lives with her family in the island. Police believe that while Meredith was not the intended victim, the shooting was in retaliation of another two weeks ago. Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Just before ten o’clock on the island of San Pedro, gunshots rang out in the San Pedrito area, a portion of the island that has emerged as a hotspot for criminal activity. Maria Escalante and her children had just closed their front door and were about to have dinner when at least five shots were fired at their apartment. Moments after, her thirteen year old daughter, Meredith, fell to the ground – she had been shot to the chest.
Maria Escalante, Mother of Shooting Victim
“She was standing right where you are and she just did this [puts hands to her chest]… “Mom I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” And I just said what happened, what happened and she said mom I can’t breathe and she got stiff on the ground. That instant I just yelled after everybody. Honestly no one helped me. I tried to go from doctor to doctor. Doctor Dan was the first one available; after that he just sent me to the polyclinic…thanks to the twenty-four hours and all the doctors and nurses that were there available. She is so lucky that it just went through one side and came out through the other side. She was so lucky…she was just…an angel was beside her. If you look at the bullet holes all over from through my door, my baby would be dead right now.”
The shooting, police believe, was in revenge for the attempted murder on well-known alleged drug-peddler, Kareem Eagan, who was shot to the leg two days earlier, on February ninth. The apartment complex is owned by “Rolly” Espat, another alleged drug trafficker and the retaliatory shooting on Wednesday night was on a room once used by one of the sons. Superintendent Luis Castellanos says that Meredith is a victim of circumstances.
Supt. Luis Castellanos, O.C., Coastal Executive Unit
“She was inside her residence which is at the Rolly Espat’s apartments when they heard several gunshots and while she was in the kitchen, she felt the burning sensation to the chest and realized that she could not breathe. The family members rushed her to the private clinic where we then intervened. I applied to the court to have the gentleman relocate from the area and that he could not be five hundred yards from the residence of the Espat because we believe that there is a rivalry between the Espats and this gentleman, Mister Eagan. And so to avoid further confrontation, we made that application and we were successful in having the application granted to us.”
“The Espats, they are known to the police?”
Supt. Luis Castellanos
“We know that they are involved in drug peddling and if you recall the news, several of them have been shot before and so they are known to the police.”
Two youngsters, believed to be the gunmen, were reportedly seen fleeing the area after the shots were fired. While the family is relieved that Meredith is at home safe, the family is traumatized by the ordeal.
“I’m still shocked. It is something that happened all of a sudden. We were just standing and we heard the bangs and that was it. My baby fell and that is what happened. I didn’t see anything. I screamed and try pick up my baby and through the door. I can’t say I see because I’d be lying. I won’t blame anybody cause I don’t know what happened.”
“You guys weren’t the intended target. What are you going to do now? Are you going to stay here?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. I’m all alone. I have nobody that I can say oh I can go to my family. I am all alone. All I can say is that I am a hard working mother; I am a single mother of six kids. All I do is work for all my kids, all by myself.”
No one has been detained in this latest shooting.
Supt. Luis Castellanos
“We don’t know who they are; we are asking the public if they can assist us. We know that there are some problems in that area; we will be policing the area. We will have more focus in the area because now it is a problem area for us and we need to address the situation.”
Duane Moody for News Five.