VALENTINE CAMP, Chiquibul, Cayo District, Wed. Mar. 30, 2016–Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey, 28, of the Belize Defense Force, was released from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) yesterday, five days after he had been shot four times from a distance with a .22 rifle in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, near the Caracol archaeological site, at about 4:50 p.m. on Holy Saturday.
Lambey was the commander of a BDF patrol on duty at Valentine Camp, an outpost near the Belize-Guatemala border.
After being released from the KHMH, Lambey was whisked away to Price Barracks to complete his recovery. He was not given time to give an interview to us.
Information to Amandala is that the gunmen, who shot from ambush cover, were Guatemalans. At the time, Lambey was conducting a water party detail at a creek about 500 yards from the camp.
The soldiers retaliated, firing into the area where they believed the gunmen were, but they escaped.
Lambey was flown out by helicopter to the KHMH, where he was treated for the gunshot injuries.
A relative of Lambey who saw the injuries reported that Lambey was shot in the abdomen, and the bullet exited through the back. He was also shot twice in the arm — once in the upper arm and once in the lower arm, and on his left thumb.
An official report from the Ministry of National Security stated the following:
“BDF soldiers stationed at the Valentin Camp Conservation Post were on a routine water supply and administration task at about 4:50 Saturday evening, when they came under fire from men armed with rifles. The encounter resulted in gunshot injuries to the arms and abdomen of a member of the BDF patrol. The injured soldier was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he was treated, for his injuries.”
The report said that immediately upon receipt of the report of the shooting incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made contact with senior officials of the Organization of American States and Belize’s Ambassador in Guatemala for them to take necessary action to determine who is responsible for the incident. Details on the outcome of the investigation will be released as soon as the report becomes available, the release said.
However, this is not the first time that Guatemalan criminals have shot at soldiers of the Belize Defense Force in the Chiquibul. On Friday, March 4, 2016, a joint patrol of BDF soldiers and FCD Rangers were in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve when they found a marijuana field on the Belize side about 1,800 feet from the Guatemala-Belize border and as the BDF approached the field, a man who saw them coming fired at them.
The patrol returned fire, and a Guatemalan later identified as Francisco Torres Sucup, was shot in the leg. A second assailant came out with a shotgun, but he was quickly surrounded and was not given a chance to shoot. They were both captured and have since been handed a jail sentence of 6 months for illegal entry. They are yet to face a charge for attempting to murder members of the patrol.
Readers will recall as well that on September 24, 2014, there was a fatal encounter with Guatemalans in the Chiquibul when Special Constable Danny Conorquie, of the Tourism Police Unit, was shot, presumably by Guatemalan bandits, at the Caracol archeological site.
Eyewitnesses say that Conorquie had been on the ground, with a Hispanicman pointing a handgun at him.
The man shot Conorquie several times. A second Hispanic man took possession of Conorquie’s Tourism Police Unit-issued pump 12-gauge shotgun. A policeman who was in the area ran to assist Conorquie, but the two Guatemalan men fired at him, causing him to take cover, and the killers escaped into the bushes, taking Conorquie’s shotgun.
Luckily, the policeman was not hit.
SC Conorquie was declared dead on the scene. The body was seen with six gunshot wounds, including two in the right arm, one in the left side of the face, and one in the left side of the abdomen, which exited from the right side, injuring his right middle finger.
Belize police announced that they would enlist assistance from their Guatemalan counterparts in finding the killers, believed to be poachers, from a nearby Guatemala village, but after a year and a half, Conorquie’s killer has still not been brought to justice.