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[Linked Image]23-year-old U.S. nursing student J'Bria Bowen was killed by a stray bullet in front of San Pedro's Jaguar's Nightclub.

Police's report on Friday night's shooting in San Pedro indicates that a U.S. tourist, 23-year-old nursing student J'Bria Bowen was fatally shot as a gunman targeted a man standing in front of Jaguar's Nightclub.

The incident occurred at around 9:30 p.m.

Police say Bowens who hailed from Indianapolis was with family members sitting on the back of a golf cart when she was hit by a stray bullet. The assailant came from the direction of Central Park and after firing indiscriminately, fled toward the beach.

Courtesy KREM News


Tourist Killed In San Pedro Public Shooting

Last night at 9:30, 23-year-old American nursing student J'Bria Michelle Bowens was with her family sitting in the back seat of a golf cart in front of the town's Central Park when a gunman opened fire in the crowded public space, reportedly with an automatic weapon. People scattered in all directions as more than a dozen shots were fired, according to eyewitnesses. When the dust cleared Bowens was motionless on the ground. She had received a gunshot wound to the body. Reports are that the gunman came from the direction of Central Park and indiscriminately fired in the direction of Jaguars Night Club. She was transported to the San Pedro Polyclinic n the back of a truck where she was pronounced dead at 9:45pm.

One island waiter who had served the family earlier that evening posted the below: "After seeing the picture and realizing it was one of our guests has been shot. I can't get that young girl's face outta my head. just sung happy Birthday for your dad and you came to tell me thanks."

Channel 7



News Five has received reports of a shooting incident on Ambergris Caye inside Central Park moments ago. Reports are that multiple persons were injured when a gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle inside the park. One eyewitness told News Five that they were in a nearby building when they heard "a bunch of shots". The individual says they then saw a crowd of people gathered at the park. Soon after, the police and medics arrived on the scene, says the eyewitness. We continue to follow these reports.

Channel 5

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I am literally sick to my stomach. This is NOT supposed to happen anywhere, ever ....... not in a school, not in a store, not on a street, not in San Pedro.

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Compol To Caye To Coordinate Investigation Into Tourist Murder

Commissioner Chester Williams flew to San Pedro this morning to coordinate the police response to last night's public shooting in downtown San Pedro which resulted in the murder of a tourist. In a brief interview before flying out, the Commissioner confirmed:

- 23 year old victim J'Bria Michelle Bowens was not the target.
- The gunman used an assault rifle to fire indiscriminately into a crowd in front of Jaguar's nightclub. Reports say it resembled an M-16 or AR-15.
- The shooting is believed to be related to the notorious drug gangs on San Pedro.
- Suspects are detained.

Off camera, the commissioner also confirmed a report to police that the gunman appears to have hidden his weapon in a tree near the scene before the shooting.

Channel 7

Update on the murder of American tourist J'Bria Michelle Bowens

In an interview at the San Pedro Police Station Commissioner of Police (ComPol), Chester Williams confirmed that two Paguada brothers are in the process of being charged for last night's shooting incident.

According to the Commissioner, the detainees are no strangers to crime on the island, with Delson Paguada having been charged both in October 2021 in relation to the murder of Jerry Espat and in January 2018 with regard to the murder of Jimell Paul Jex.

The San Pedro Sun will have a complete story once official charges are levied and the Police issue a detailed report.


[Linked Image]
Scene of shooting incident.

American nursing student visiting San Pedro killed in tragic shooting incident

A tragic shooting incident at San Pedro's Central Park on Friday, December 30th has left an American nursing student dead. 23-year-old J'Bria Michelle Bowens from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, who is not believed to be the shooter's intended target, was rushed to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II where she was pronounced dead on arrival. San Pedro police have a few people in custody, while Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Chester Williams has traveled to the island to coordinate the policing efforts to make an arrest in connection with this serious incident that threatens the island's strongest income earner-tourism.

The official report states that around 9:30 PM police responded to reports of shots fired at Central Park, just in front of Jaguars Night Club. When officers arrived at the scene, they observed Bowens on the ground suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Police's initial investigation indicate that around 9:27 PM, Bowens along with other family members, was sitting on the back seat of a golf cart when someone came from the direction of the park and started firing several shots towards a man standing by the entrance of the night club. Some of these shots caught Bowens, causing her fatal injuries.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun



San Pedro's Roman Catholic priest, Father Eduardo Montemayor writes about his terrible and frightening ordeal in last night's deadly mass shooting on the island: "The woman's name who was killed last night in San Pedro (near the Church) by gun shots is Ms. J'Bria Michelle Bowens. She was an innocent bystander; a 23 year old American nursing student from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Apparently, the Gunman was targeting a member of a Gang that was hanging out at the Rehab Lounge at the entrance of Jaguar's Night Club, very near the Church.

It happened as Br. Ryan and I were closing the Church around 9:30 p.m. There were many shots fired (as many as 20); and People were running and screaming, and some came looking for shelter inside the Church.

Thank God that I was able to anoint her, and forgive her sins, and I entrusted her to God's Mercy. We (the Town of San Pedro) must first make atonement for the Shedding of Innocent Blood. Her blood cries out to God. She was a tourist, a guest in our home. And We have a sacred Duty to protect our Guests. We also have a Sacred Duty to pray for Her Soul, and for her Family, and to Seek Justice for this Great Evil.

After it was all over, I realized that My Hands were covered with that Poor Woman's Blood. So I went before the Altar, and I presented Her Blood to Our Lord Jesus, asking His Mercy upon Her Soul, and asking His Mercy upon Us for the Shedding of Innocent Blood in our Town.

I decided to take a Picture of My Hands covered in Her Blood - to remember the duty I have to pray for her for the Rest of My Life. And yet I have great Hope for her Salvation, and for our Future. Why?

Because 8-days ago we celebrated the Birthday of Jesus Christ, who came to Save Us from the Power of Evil and Death".

Statement by the Prime Minister on the Random Act of Terrorism in San Pedro
Belmopan. December 31, 2022.

As a nation we are profoundly saddened by the killing of tourist J'Bria Michelle Bowens which occurred in San Pedro on Friday night. We join in the grief and sorrow which has rocked not only her family, but the entire peaceful community and nation.

Justice delivered swiftly can be the only comfort her family and community can know at this time, and the Government has directed that Commissioner Chester Williams himself lead the hunt for those who perpetrated this senseless act. The Commissioner, senior officers and specialized Police Units have already commenced their work on the island and have detained suspects.

While the outrage in the community and across the country is palpable and justified, certainly fueled by the sheer senselessness of the act and its impact on tourism, we note that this is a remote, random act of violence. San Pedro has long enjoyed peace and security as a result of strong, disciplined Police presence and solid community support.

We ask, in the wake of this terrible crime, that the community continue to stand with the Police in cracking down on any and every instance of criminal activity on the island, and that in this instance specifically, the Police be allowed to operate without hindrance in bringing to justice those responsible for this heinous act.

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Prayer gathering led by Father Eduardo Montemayor, San Pedro leaders and residents held in honor of J'Bria Michelle Bowens, who tragically lost her life yesterday at this location across from the Central Park.

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[Linked Image]

Today, January 1, 2023, police have formally arrested and charged Lucio Salazar 33yrs DOB 27/11/89 Belizean Fisherman of San Pedro Town and Delson Paguada 24yrs DOB 19/11/98 Belizean Fisherman of San Pedro Town and another for the crime of murder.

This is in reference to the murder ofJbria Michelle Bowens that occurred on 30/12/22. The tragic shooting at San Pedro's Central Park left the 23-year-old American nursing student dead. J'Bria Michelle Bowens from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, who is not believed to be the shooter's intended target, was rushed to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

U.S. Embassy Belmopan Statement on the Death of a U.S. Citizen in San Pedro:

"We are saddened by the events in San Pedro, Belize that occurred Friday. We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in San Pedro and offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. We are closely monitoring the local authority's investigation and stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the family. Out of respect for their privacy, we have nothing further to add at this time."


[Linked Image]

Islanders Lucio Salazar and Delson Pagoda charged with the murder of American student J'Bria Michelle Bowen

On Sunday, January 1st, police provided an update on the shooting death of American nursing student J'Bria Michelle Bowens, 23, which occurred on Friday near San Pedro's Central Park. Police say their investigations led to the arrest of Delson Paguada, 24, and Lucio Salazar, 33, charging them with the crime of Murder. The police also say they are looking for a third person. On Saturday, December 31st, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams traveled to San Pedro to coordinate the investigation and provide an update, stating that the suspects were apprehended and would be charged with murder and firearm offenses. When the charges were made official on Sunday, police released the images of both Paguada and Salazar. The police report mentioned that a third suspect is yet to be apprehended.

Paguada is no stranger to police and was out on bail. His mother claims he was at home when the unfortunate incident happened on Friday. The last time Paguada was in trouble with the law was October 2021. He was arrested, charged, and remanded in connection with a shooting at Cangrejo Caye south of Ambergris Caye that resulted in the death of Jerry Espat. Police had sought Paguada following the incident. Days later, he reportedly handed himself in to authorities accompanied by an attorney. Paguada was arraigned at the San Pedro Magistrate Court for the charges of Attempted Murder, Grievous Harm, Use of Deadly Means of Harm, and Wounding.

Salazar's brushes with the law can be traced back to 2013. Salazar was charged with the murder of Jeremy Baptist. The charges arose from an investigation that followed several reports gathered by police that Baptist was shot and his body disposed of. The body remains missing, and no updates are available. Salazar also faced drug and assault-related charges in 2012.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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The Murder Of A Tourist In San Pedro

Tonight, a devastated American family has left Belize behind, perhaps, forever.

For them, it will forever be a place that caused them the most unimaginable pain. Their 23-year-old daughter J'Bria was with her family on a Belizean vacation in San Pedro to celebrate her dad's birthday. But all that changed on Friday night at 9:30 when what should have been a celebratory night turned tragic as J'Bria was unwittingly caught in the line of gang gunfire.

Our 7News team was on the first flight out on Saturday morning. Cherisse Halsall followed the case straight through the New Year's weekend and tonight she brings us this story.

J'Bria Bowens and her family were sitting right here last night. They were reveling in a cool Belizean night after a birthday dinner for her dad.

But that's when a gunman saw his target ordering food from this stall.

And this morning eyewitnesses told us that he indiscriminately sprayed gunfire endangering, cooks, patrons, and their families and ultimately killing the 23-year-old tourist.

Voice of Eyewitness
"Well, what I saw last night when I was working at the park. I saw this guy come with a fisherman hat on, with a ski mask in black, you know. I saw him walk come with the bag to halfway to the Christmas tree and looked towards Jaguar and it looks like he saw his target who he came after when he saw it he walked back towards the bathroom at the park and put the black bag down and hauled out a machine AK gun and just came back towards the same Christmas tree where he had stood up first and pointed it towards Jaguar's and a lot of people were there and he just opens sprayed and ended up shooting a young lady on a golf cart who was an American, you know, and sprayed the gun just shot it like with no sense and he didn't get his target but he got someone else and ended up running back into the park and went around to an area by chicken drop and ended up shooting again and it looked like he jumped in a boat and just took offhand gone."

But as terror struck the public square parkgoers, San Pedranos and foreigners took refuge in the nearby Catholic Church. Local Pastor Father Eduardo Montemayor says he stood at the door calling them inside. It was only when the dust had cleared that he started walking toward the scene and J'Bria Bowens' terrorized family.

Fr. Eduardo Montemayor, Pastor
"So, at that moment I immediately tried to pray for her. She seemed, and I took her pulse she did have a pulse at that moment so I just entrusted her soul to god I gave her the anointing and I entrusted her soul to God."

"At the same time, her family members were well let's see if we can maybe resuscitate her and so immediately we started shouting and screaming for a truck, some sort of truck to carry her and so at that moment the police officers brought a truck and so we carried her to the back of the truck and you know pleading that they take her as fast as they can to the polyclinic to see if maybe they could resuscitate her and save her life."

Cherisse Halsall:
"So let me ask you, you, when you start walking towards the scene, you know, how much terror is there within you at that moment?"

Fr. Eduardo Montemayor, Pastor
"Yeah, I wasn't afraid but uh, I wasn't afraid but I was very concerned obviously for those that might have been hurt I thought maybe children or somebody else. There was a lot of children, there were a lot of families just hanging out here in the park, playing in the park and when this kind of violence happens it's just a shock to the entire community."

That's right she is an innocent bystander I think a nurse, a medical student or a nursing student from LSU, Louisiana State University and so it is tragic

And, It isn't the first time a guest has been caught in the crossfire of a San Pedro dispute. 3 years ago it was American doctor Gary Swank who died at the hands of a gunman who silenced him after his fly fishing guide was murdered before his eyes.

But what happened this time?

Cherisse Halsall:
"Sir, anything the investigation has revealed about what the dispute is between the shooter and the intended target?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"They have a long-standing beef over drugs and other issues. I guess you have heard about the different fractions in San Pedro and the intense rivalry they had before. Much has been done to allay that issue but again when they find opportunities they try to take it and I believe that one group saw the opportunity last night, took it but they still failed and ended up killing an innocent person."

J'Bria was innocent and unusually kind, that's according to the waiter she asked to sing her dad happy birthday, less than an hour before she was killed.

Mariano Guerrero, Waiter, Elvi's Kitchen
"After they had dinner and everything she came to find me again all the way in the service area and she came to thank me for that happy birthday and said, you know, that it made their night. Right before they left they told us peace and that's what they did and they went on with their night."

"Working in this industry I always learn to appreciate kind people, we deal with a lot of different people and some people are not the nicest and I can say that she was definitely a sweet girl and so that's what kind of struck me, you know."

Guerrero's boss chef Jennie Staines says she saw the family drive off but couldn't have known the horror that awaited them in the park but she had her suspicions.

Jennie Staines, Chef, Elvi's Kitchen
"All the business community, the whole of San Pedro, families, and everybody is so hurt but it was something that I personally feel that was coming because lately, the front of San Pedro has been really, I don't want to say that it's ghetto, but by Jaguar's the whole ambience around it hasn't been a pleasant one like before. Me personally I don't go to the park anymore because the ambience, because before I would go a little and relax at the park and then go home because it's fresh and everything but the ambience lately hasn't been nice. Too much, you know the bad people, San Pedro is a small town and right now it's mourning this young lady which was so, from the workers I know she was a big-hearted person and that family is going to remember this day for the rest of their life. It was her Dad's birthday."

"I plead to the authorities to do something about it because they know exactly what is going on, please help us because this is going to affect the whole tourism industry."

Fr. Eduardo Montemayor, Pastor
"I am concerned that if the gangs are using the rehab lounge or Jaguar as a hub for them then we must demand that be permanently closed, if it's going to be used as a hub for gangs, as a hub for gang members. This should be a family-friendly place it needs protection a booth or something here permanently and if anything is a magnet or attracting these gang members to form this as a hub then that needs to be eliminated. This needs to be a safe place where people can come, families can come and just enjoy themselves."

And what's curious about the community's fears is the fact that they certainly had no immediate effect. New Year's Eve saw tourists strolling, taking smiling pictures, and preparing to celebrate. You couldn't know from these sunny pictures that anything at all happened in San Pedro.

Still, the Commissioner is taking anything but a nonchalant approach, On Saturday he told 7News that things in San Pedro were going to change.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"My instructions to the team that is coming out is that these gang members, and we have three pockets of gangs in San Pedro. These gang members must not be allowed to breathe sleep or eat in peace. Every move they make the police must be on them and I am sending out a team specifically to deal with them and I hope Cherisse that when the police come and deal with them and they run to channel 7 to complain about police brutality that you all chase them because at the end of the day as a society, we must know when enough is enough."

But more than vengeance, the town priest called for atonement:

Fr. Eduardo Montemayor, Pastor
"And I think when innocent blood is shed in our streets, as a town before, that we cry out to God for vengeance, and we as a town need to make atonement for when innocent blood is shed like this, especially because they are our guests, they are our visitors here and we have a sacred duty to protect our visitors and our guests."

Bowens' postmortem indicates that her cause of death was a shot to the neck.

San Pedro Gunmen Used Assault Rifles

And while eyewitnesses told us they saw one shooter, this morning, the commissioner told us there were two gunmen. Here's how the Compol put it:

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"What led to the incident in front of Jaguars, there was a member of one of the groups in San Pedro at the Jaguar Night Club. I guess he was purchasing food and I apparently one of the rival groups may have seen him there and came for him. From what we gathered is that while they were shooting at him, the tourist was on a golf cart and was in the direct line of firing. And unfortunately, she was caught. Now that should not bring any comfort to the family or to us, the fact is it's a life lost, and the life of someone who was here visiting our country and that makes it even worse for us."

"From the statements we obtained from witnesses, there were three suspects. Two had weapons."

"So two people fired guns?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"Yes. And the two that fired guns are the ones we have win custody who have been charged."

"Ok, and so there was an escape boat?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

Jules Vasquez
"Are you able to state specifically how many rounds were fired and did they use an assault rifle?"

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
"I'm not going to say the amount of rounds fired, but yes an assault rifle was used and from what we gathered was that the shooters came from along the beach and they had those dive bags that divers would normally use that have the dive equipment and they walk into the park and when they saw the person of interest, they put the bag down, open it, took out the firearms and open fire towards them."

San Pedro Murderers Arraigned

And two of the murder suspects, 24-year-old Delson Paguada and 33-year-old Lucio Salazar were jointly arraigned in Belize City's magistrate court today for J'Bria's murder.

The duo were brought in from the island because there was no Magistrate there.

In the City they appeared before Magistrate Dennison Mannan who remanded them to the Belize Central Prison until March 3, 2023.

And, also in court today was Delson Paguada's younger brother Tionnne. He was read a single charge of escape from lawful custody and offered $500.00 Bail which he was able to meet. One notable condition of his bail however is that he may not leave the country without the permission of the court.

Tionne Paguada's next court date is set for March 3, 2023 the same day his older brother and Lucio Salazar are set to return.

Still at large and wanted by police for questioning in connection to the murder is San Pedro resident Alfredo Trapp

Channel 7

ComPol Assures that Police Presence Remains High In San Pedro Following Fatal Shooting

In the aftermath of the fatal shooting of J'Bria Bowens, the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams assured that there's heightened police presence in San Pedro and that while the presence is sustained, there is also the effort to gather all possible evidential material against those who have been charged.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

"The quick response from the police led to the apprehension and the subsequent arrests of two individuals so far. One is a Paguada and the other one is a Salazar. We're still in search of one person who is a Trapp, all of whom are from San Pedro Town and we believe that we do have a good case. The officers remain active on the ground in San Pedro to make sure that we gather as much as we can to be able to successfully prosecute those offenders."

Channel 5

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Special Statement on recent gun violence on Ambergris Caye by Hon. Andre Perez:

Brothers and sisters of San Pedro,

By now we are fully aware that 2022 ended with tragic news of gun violence in Belmopan, Belize City and San Pedro. I join in expressing deepest sympathy to the family members of those lost in these senseless acts of hate and cowardice.

See full address by Hon. Andre Perez below.

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