COROZAL–A blood-stained patch of grass on the side of College Road in Corozal Town is all that indicated where the life of Mark Massam, Jr., 29, gruesomely ended after he was hacked to death in what has been recorded as the first and bloodiest murder within the confines of the quiet northern town since the start of the year.
According to police, Massam was in the company of his friend and neighbor, Carlos Cassanova, Jr., 22, and both men had been riding separate bicycles when, for some unknown reason, an argument broke out between the two.
That misunderstanding quickly escalated to a deadly melee in which Massam was viciously chopped several times in the head and upper body.
Police arrived on the scene while the assault was still in progress, but that reportedly did not stop the attacker from chopping the life out of his acquaintance.
Deputy Commander of Corozal police, Inspector Peter Serano, told us what happened when his officers arrived on the scene where, eyewitnesses said, the machete-wielding madman had inflicted as many as 30 severe chops to his victim.
He said, “Last night, sometime about 9:15 p.m., police received information about a chopping incident on College Road. We immediately responded, and on the scene, police saw a person inflicting chop wounds on another person. Police shouted at the person to stop and drop the machete, but he refused.”
“Warning shots were fired, but the person continued to chop the other person, who was already on the ground lying face down with multiple chop wounds on the head and upper body,” Inspector Serano said.
“Subsequently, police fired twice at the person who was doing the chopping, hitting him in both legs and the right knee, and that’s how the person was subdued,” the officer told us.
By the time authorities were able to subdue Cassanova and confiscate the weapon, however, Massam was already dead.
Although we understand that Massam was no stranger to law enforcement officials, we were told that he was in the midst of making a positive change in his life, and had been working on a government-facilitated infrastructure project that is currently taking place in Corozal Town.
Though he had never been convicted, he had been arrested and charged for a slew of crimes in Corozal in the past. Massam’s last known run-in with Corozal police took place in January 2013 when he was remanded to prison for a firearm that he allegedly threw away while being chased by officers.
Meanwhile, Carlos Cassanova, Sr., the father of the man who is allegedly responsible for the shocking murder, told us that his family is also very distraught by the incident, because Carlos, Jr., had become mentally unstable, and that it was his first night back home after running away from his family a few weeks ago under the pretense that he was going to work.
“A lady came in a car and started to bawl his name and my name. We came out and the lady told me that ‘your son just killed a man’. Then I just ran out straight out there [where it happened]. When I reached, the policeman said, ‘you can’t see your son’, but before everything happened, I had told them [police] to come and look for my son because me and my wife agreed that they can come pick up my son and take him to the [mental] hospital because I know he is not correct in his mind”, a visibly distressed Cassanova, Sr., said.
The brutal attack has gone down as the 7th murder in the Corozal District, but it is undoubtedly one of the bloodiest murders that have been registered for this year, and the gory scene was a testament of that.
One of the biggest questions, however, is what led to the deadly brawl between the two friends, but Cassanova, Sr., believes that his son may have been provoked.
“People told me that he was passing, and he stopped on a corner with his friends. Then, they saw a pickup go [up to where they were] and reverse, then four men jumped out and aggravated him, then the thing started”, he explained.
The Cassanova family mentioned that they are now in fear for their lives, especially since they have been receiving death threats due to the incident.
“Last night, they came and stone my house with bottles and so forth, but I’ll just leave it in God’s hands because I am a fair man. I work hard for my money, and I don’t want any enemies; I don’t need enemies”, he emphasized.
Massam’s sister, on the other hand, told the media today that vengeance is not on their agenda.
She said, “I don’t think retaliation is a part of it. Right now, all we are trying to do is to get my brother to rest in peace and get it over with. The police are doing their work, so I just want them to do their work and have justice come out of it. According to what we heard, it was like a setup; they called him to his death. I didn’t hear that he [my brother] had any conflict or anything because it’s from behind that they chopped him. They chopped him in the head and neck and he doesn’t have any of his fingers, so he had to have succumbed to his injuries. He could not live.”
Cassanova, Sr., claimed that he has no idea how his son got hold of the machete, and maintained that Carlos, Jr., was calm at home before the incident, since he had been keeping up with the recommended dosages of the medication for his psychological condition.
Police said that as soon as Cassanova, Jr., is released from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, where he is under police guard while being treated for his injuries to the right thigh and both legs, he will face charges for his actions.
Inspector Serano told us that the investigation is still currently in its early stages, and that investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from the area to try to ascertain what exactly transpired between the two men.
Despite Cassanova, Jr.,’s family’s assertions that he had a mental disorder, Inspector Serano told us that police have not been able to substantiate those claims as yet.