Murdered on 4/20 In Front of His Family

A murder in Roaring Creek last night has left a family traumatized and devastated - while also taking a cogent pro legalization voice out of the national debate on legalizing cannabis.

Last night, 58-year-old Michael Clarke, was preparing to go on a morning show to discuss the cannabis bill - but a mystery gunman ended his life in what looks like a targeted killing - right in front of his home.

Now, not only is his family grieving after this shocking end, but the national dialogue has lost an important voice in the fight for the legalization of marijuana.

Courtney Menzies traveled west today and has this story:

58-year-old Michael Clarke was a son, a husband, and a father - but many people will always know him as a lucid, clear-spoken advocate for marijuana. He wasn't afraid to speak up, to clarify mistrusts, and to teach whoever would listen about "ganja."

In fact, he was getting ready to appear on Krem's WUB Morning Vibes today - but last night he was executed inside his vehicle, right in front of his children.

According to his wife, they had arrived at their Roaring Creek home just before 8pm and she got out of the car to open the gate to the driveway. That's when a gunman ran past her and opened fire on Clarke, hitting him in the head and killing him on the spot - with three kids in the back seat.

And while, for his family, 4/20 will forever be the day they wish they could forget, it's normally a day for smokers to enjoy their favorite pastimes, and no doubt Clarke would have been too. Advocacy was one of his passions, and that was evident when he appeared on Sunup on 7 last week.

Michael Clarke - Deceased Marijuana Advocate
"Marijuana has always been a parallel economy in Belize. So when you had the sugarcane industry when it crashed, and when sorghum and other stuff came on board and sugar lost its value. The industry was assuaged by marijuana growth. In the far flung reaches of PG and those areas where government outreach hasn't reached, these people have always subsidized their existence with marijuana. So to now demonize it at this point and say that it's the devil's medicine; it's just not true. I'm not gonna plug myself, but if you look at my bio, I mean it's years and years that I've put in this thing. At a time when there was prohibition. When people treated advocacy as saying you're a drug dealer."

Clinton "Pullu" Lightburn - Friend of the Deceased
"For him it wasn't as much as the legalization of marijuana. He was more concerned about educating the masses about marijuana because people had different ideas of different views, people, but not the misinformation. And other people weren't putting out the information. So he was testing and our thing was to get together and educate the nation about marijuana. I thought when you made a decision, you know the reason why you were making a decision, you had all the facts in order."

Cherisse Halsall
"Sir, how great a loss is this for the fight for the legalization?"

Clinton "Pullu" Lightburn
"Well, it's a huge loss because I've spoken to dozens of people about marijuana and whether they were for or against it. But of all the people I've spoken to, he was the most knowledgeable nobody I spoke to had more knowledge than him. This side of Google."

And, as his friend and fellow advocate, Pulu Lightburn, explained that Clarke's goal was to educate as many people as possible. He also mentioned that they had just prepared their presentation for WUB when Clarke was killed.

Clinton "Pullu" Lightburn
"Me and him were supposed to go on Krem TV this morning at 8:00 to educate the nation about, uh, about cannabis.And he called me about seven or thereafter and we spoke for about 45 minutes. And he told me, he said, Well, I'm going to, I'm going to come to see you early in the morning. Then we could go to town together. So when I got the call this morning after six, I thought it was him outside my door that came for us to come to, uh, to the Krem television this morning at 8:00 but it was a guy telling me that he had got, he was shot in the face the night before. I guess it happened right after we spoke. From what I understand, he lived in a rough neighborhood, and Michael was a no-nonsense guy. He was kind of short fuse, so I don't know what might have happened, so I, you know, I can't. I don't want to guess. I, you know, that's the job of the police."

But the irony of it is, that yesterday was 4/20 which is the day when marijuana is celebrated. It was supposed to be a cannabis slash marijuana day.

Cherisse Halsall
"And that's the day Michael Clarke lost his life."

Clinton "Pullu" Lightburn
"Yep. And the day that was the biggest day for advocates of marijuana."

No one has been detained - and up to this evening his wife was at the Belmopan police station.

Channel 7