Public terror struck in the heart of San Ignacio on Saturday night when shots rang out outside a crowded nightclub. When the dust settled, two were dead and three injured.
As we found out today, this burst of unthinkable violence ended in a flash, but has left a deep imprint of grief and trauma which will endure for some time.
Cherisse Halsall reports.
This was the scene on Saturday night when a Taxi parked in front of CK nightclub was targeted by a gunman.
Its passengers 19-year-old, Marquees Robateau, 29-year old Telesha Mckay, and 29-Year-old Windell Trapp had been waiting to get into the overcrowded club.
But within seconds Trapp, as well as the taxi man 22-year-old Samuel Hill, were dead - a shocking turn of events that left Marquees Robateau running for his life. A relative spoke to us by phone and asked to remain anonymous:
Voice of: Close relative of Marquees Robateau
"What he said that when I don't remember who he said got shot first but he asked Samuel if he was good and Samuel told him to run but when he was getting out of the car he got a shot in his chest and running towards the market they fired three shots at him one caught him in his foot and one slightly caught him on his hand and he ran up into two police officers and he said the officers were pointing their guns at him and he told them no he'd just been shot he needed help and so a long while after when the gunman knew that it was police that he ran up into they left."
"He explained that the vehicle was parked in a certain kind of way that he had to open the vehicle and close it so that he could pass and he opened it and closed it so he got out and ran."
"He said that when he was running he ran zigzag the way they taught then during their coast guard training."
Robateau, who is currently recovering from surgery, was one of the relatively lucky ones. The front seat passenger Windell Trapp, well known as a player for the national football team, lost his life in the gunfire. This morning his uncle told us why he believes Trapp was the target.
Ismael Trapp, Uncle of the deceased
"We had a little marathon out here Saturday night and after that we all dispensed and these guys I guess they went to I think it was CK so that's basically all I know."
"What happened about 9 months or maybe a year ago there was an incident where the killed a young lady right I think those Galindo's mother and I think after that Mr. Chester brought the two parties to the table and we were there and the Galindo's were there too and he said that he wanted this thing to stop because if it continued then he would put pressure on both parties and so at that meeting there the Galindo's they said to Mr. Chester, Mr Chester and Mr. Jemmott was also there. They said listen it's not Mr. John Trapp son. I am John Trapp, it's not Mr. John Trapp son who killed my mother. Right there he said that so he said if this continued that he would bring pressure down on both parties and so he said he wanted us to keep the peace and so I said to them listen I am not in these things here I don't do that and we kept our peace."
"After that about three months and a half ago they killed my son in PG right this has to be and then now the thing...so it should just continue on."
But while Trapp's family can rationalize the reason behind his murder Samuel Hill's father, a man of faith, is shocked to lose his youngest child, a man he says was just trying to earn an honest living.
Mathias Hill, Samuel Hill's Father
"Nobody could have told me and I would have believed that I'd see him going to work and that morning that I wouldn't see him alive again until they called me that night so it's really unbelievable."
"He meant so much. He was my baby boy. He was the last child for me and my former wife that died. He was loved by everybody, jovial, mannerly. I mean he can't hear me now but I always tell him that I'm proud of him."
"As a taxi person he was out there doing his job trying to make an honest living earning his little income and some passengers got into the car and that is when everything unfolded so as far as I know he was one of the innocent persons that got shot and he was just doing his job."
But he's not the only father shaken by this horrific act. Sebastian Jimenez is grateful that his son Danny who tried to wrestle the gun from the gunman is alive to tell the tale.
Voice of: Sebastian Jimenez
"He was not with those guys. He didn't know anything that was going to happen. He just got there at that moment and he didn't know anything. The guy was just asking him some questions. Probably they wouldn't have done him anything, I don't know, the guys that were shooting doesn't care about life, they don't value people's life. That's the way he got shot."
"He is doing okay, he shattered his jaw in pieces. He will need some help from all the good Belizeans because I understand that this operation will cost him at least $14,000. Danny will take off his last shirt and give it to somebody so it hurts when these things happen to your son."
It seems Jimenez is a hero and the man that the Marques Robateau and Telesha Mckay can thank for their survival. This morning National Crimes Investigator for this major incident described their condition as stable.
ACP Joseph Myvette
"The others are in a stable condition at this point in time. We do believe that this is a result of an ongoing rivalry between the 2 groups in San Ignacio. At this time our officers are on the ground investigating and several pieces of evidence have been gathered. We have several persons in custody and is seeking one or two more persons in in relation to this investigation at this time."
But the Commissioner seems to mean business when it comes to squashing this San Ignacio beef. This morning he announced that the GSU would be descending on the twin towns and warned residents not to get in their way.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"We are putting together an operational plan that encompasses the presence of GSU in the San Ignacio area as of today and let me say this: Whenever the police go in to do their work and go after these persons who have no regard for the lives of others. They tend to put things out to play on the emotion of the wider society and then they start to bash the police for doing what the police are doing to bring some calm to the area. Well, let me say that while the police move into San Ignacio to ensure that law and order is maintained who wants to complain about the actions of the police in dealing with those thugs they can complain. The police will not be perturbed by those complaints, we will do what needs to be done to address the situation is San Ignacio Santa Elena and have our good citizens enjoy the sense of peace, security and quietness that they so rightly deserve."