Headline — 29 October 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Deadly robbery in Sandhill: Gunmen killed the driver and stole over $10,000

A Yo Creek father of three children was shot dead during an ambush by two robbers at about 12:30 Friday afternoon in Sandhill, at Mile 19 on the Philip Goldson Highway at its junction with the old Maskall Road.

George Blanco, 60, was driving his company truck from Belize City to Orange Walk, along with his boss, John Penner, 42, and Penner’s two sons, Abraham, 20, and Gerhard, 22, after selling meat to suppliers in the city. As he slowed for the pedestrian crossing at Mile 19 in Sandhill, suddenly one of two men who were standing on the left side of the road near the speed bump fired into the front of the vehicle, killing Blanco almost instantly.

Blanco was hit under the arm, and slumped over the steering wheel. The two robbers, who were armed with a gun and a knife, approached the truck from the left and right side of the vehicle, robbed the boss and his two sons and escaped with over $10,000 in cash.

Both robbers escaped into a swampy area on the right side of the Philip Goldson Highway. One 9mm expended Lugar shell was retrieved from the scene.

The body of George Blanco was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where it was pronounced dead on arrival at 2:10 p.m. that same Friday, October 25.

Abraham Penner told Channel 7 news that he was seated behind the driver, George Blanco, when he heard an explosion like a tire blowout, and heard a man open the driver’s door, causing the driver who was slumping over the steering wheel to fall out onto the pavement.

The killer told them to stop and give him all the money; if not, he would kill them all. Abraham said that his brother and father had jumped out of the right door, the passenger door, when the gunman opened the driver’s door.

Abraham said that he tried to jump out, but the gunman stopped him and ordered him to give him the money; fearing for his life, he handed over his wallet. He doesn’t remember what exactly happened afterwards, but his father and brother were brought back to the truck by the other robber, who approached from the right side of the vehicle.

His father and brother were then ordered to hand over their money, and fearing for their lives, they obeyed.

John Penner said that when the men escaped, he took out his cell phone and called Blanco’s family and told them that Blanco was dead. Blanco’s son did not believe that his father has been killed, said Penner, but he told him that the incident had just happened and that his father had been taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, and that he, Penner, was very sorry. He said that Blanco had been working with him for over 15 years and will be missed.

Police, who conducted a search of the area, found a pair of slippers and a pair of black boots that were believed to belong to the killers. Neighbors in the area told police that they heard a loud bang, like the explosion of a tire, and shortly after saw two men running through their yard; the men ran through a nearby pond and escaped into the surrounding area.

According to Penner, this was not the first time that they have been robbed, and he believed that the killers have been studying their routine before they were attacked.

Police have launched a manhunt for the two killers.

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