Features — 18 July 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego
BDF back on city streets!

Uncontrollable crime forces soldiers to partner with police in trying to control the deadly violence

This afternoon, Inspector Calbert Flowers, Deputy Commander of the Precinct 2 Police, told Amandala that the BDF is now attached to the police “24/7” and are conducting patrols, and that everything is going well.

The commander’s assurances come after gang violence flared up in the old capital once again – since Saturday, June 7, 10 persons have been killed and 25 injured by gunshots. One of the injured was declared to be in a critical condition and is presently hospitalized, and a girl is recovering, with a bullet in her chest.

The latest murder occurred at about 10:30 Friday night on Racoon Street Extension in Belize City. A gunman went up to Julio Mendoza, 59, a construction contractor and father of four and stepfather of eight children, and shot him in the head while he was lying on the ground under a house on Racoon Street Extension.

Mendoza and some other dominoes players had positioned themselves on the ground in an attempt to escape the bullets of a gunman, on a bicycle, who was chasing two men, also on bicycles, firing as he rode.

It appeared, however, that the gunman’s targets had escaped, and so apparently frustrated, the gunman went to where the dominoes players were hiding under the house, on the ground, and shot one of them, Mendoza.

The gunman reportedly tried to shoot more of the dominoes players, but his gun jammed.

Public outcry over the senseless murders has prompted the government to return soldiers of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) to the city streets.

In making the announcement on Friday, Retired Col. George Lovell, CEO, Ministry of National Security, said that the BDF will be returned to well-known hotspots throughout the Southside of Belize City. The CEO said that the soldiers were going back on the streets to assist the police in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy.

By Monday, soldiers had returned to the mean streets of the old capital. In a press briefing held at the Racoon Street Police Station on Monday, Inspector Flowers said that the police, with the help of the BDF, have embarked on aggressive measures to combat the increasing crime.

The police are now targeting loiterers, who are hanging out on the street-side aimlessly and those drinking on the street, as well as those found committing minor offenses, such as riding in twos on bicycles. There will also be frequent patrols in the known hot spots, and there will be high visibility of police in the problem areas to deter crime.

The soldiers will remain on the city streets for about two weeks, but they will continue on patrol longer if the crime wave doesn’t stop or slow down to a more tolerable level.

Among those who were killed over the last 10 days, due to the warring gangs, are Myron “Saddest” Smith, Leon “Reds” Burgess, Dave Copius, and Dwayne Hilton, and there was the attempted murder of PIV personality, Edwin “Drive” Flowers, who was shot in the forehead by an unknown gunman.

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