There were three separate deaths – in Punta Gorda, San Pedro and Santa Elena, Cayo, respectively – over the weekend following Holy Week.
On Saturday afternoon, Jonathan Requeña, 14, of 9th Street, San Ignacio Town, drowned in the Macal River. After he was taken out of the river, rescuers conducted chest compressions on him, but he was already dead. The body was taken to the morgue at the San Ignacio Hospital to await a post-mortem to certify the cause of his death.
According to police, at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon they responded to reports of a drowning and visited the Macal River in an area between the Hawksworth Bridge and a nearby board bridge where they saw the body of Jonathan Requeña lying face-up on the banks of the river.
Police reported that Requeña and his friend, 16, were swimming in the Macal River when he went under the water and did not resurface. His body was later found a little after 3:00 that same Saturday afternoon.
Requeña’s friend told police that he and Requeña had gone for a swim in the river on the San Ignacio side by the boat wharf when Requeña jumped into the water. Requeña’s friend said that he saw him begin struggling and going under. Requeña fought to stay above the water, but he still went under, said the friend, who immediately went to help him, but his efforts were unsuccessful.
A man who was in the area saw what was happening and jumped into the river to help, but he, also, was unsuccessful in rescuing Requeña.
A search was made in the area for the teenager, who was later found on the Santa Elena side of the riverbanks.
Then, at about 11:25 Saturday night, Dennis Palacio, 43, a laborer of the San Juan area, San Pedro Town, was leaning on a fence in the San Juan area when an unknown gunman approached and shot him with a handgun multiple times.
Palacio tried to escape by running into the yard, but fell in the back of the yard. The killer then escaped.
Palacio was rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police said that they found Palacio lying face-down on the ground. He had been shot in the left side of the lower back, twice in the right upper back near the shoulder, and once in the right hand. Exit wounds were also observed in his neck and ribs. Police say that they found five expended 9mm shells and three projectiles were found at the scene.
Police said that Palacio was a known drug peddler in the area, but was not known to be involved in conflicts or confrontation. Police were patrolling in the area when they heard the gunshots, and they rushed back to the area, but it was only to find Palacio dead on the ground in the yard.
No one has been arrested as yet for the murder.
Violent crimes seem to be on the increase on the tourist destination island. Palacio’s murder came less than two days after some men came under fire while sitting in two golf carts in front of the Campos residence on Canister Street, also in the San Juan area.
At about 9:30 Thursday night, six masked gunmen came from the area of the lagoon and fired at the men. People in the area scrambled for cover, and the shooters then got into a boat that was waiting for them in the lagoon and escaped from the area.
No one was hit, but there were gunshot damage to some houses and the windshields of the golf carts. Police who processed the scene announced that twelve 9mm expended shells were recovered from the scene, although residents of the area reported that they heard as many as 16 shots.
The residents have called on police to be more visible in the area due to the frequent shootings there, which are affecting them and their children to the point that they have become fearful of walking out of their homes at night.
In another incident, on Sunday morning at about 10:15, Norman Benguche, 69, a linesman for the Belize Water and Sewerage Authority of New Road, Punta Gorda, was killed by his stepson, who, police say, stabbed him three times in the upper back while he was eating at his table on his house verandah.
The stepson, David Branson, 24, who lives at Benguche’s house, was charged for murder at about 9:00 this morning, Tuesday, in the Punta Gorda Magistrate’s Court.
Police reported that Benguche became involved in a dispute with his stepson, David Branson, who took a knife that was on the table and stabbed Benguche in the upper back. Benguche was rushed to the Punta Gorda Hospital, but he died shortly after, at about 10:30 that same Sunday morning, less than 15 minutes after he was attacked and stabbed with the knife.
His body was later taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where an autopsy was carried out to certify the cause of death.