DANGRIGA TOWN, Stann Creek District, Sun. Apr. 17, 2016–The peace at the Wadani Recreational Center at the corner of Mangrove and St. Vincent Streets in Dangriga, was shattered at about 7:00 Saturday night as people scrambled for cover after gunfire erupted during a gin card game under a shed, leaving one man dead and two others injured.
Witnesses say that a gunman went to the shed and shot a player identified as Gerald “Shiny” Tillett, 37, of George Street, Belize City, the reputed boss of the George Street gang.
Tillett was shot in the back of the head, and as he slumped forward onto the table, the gunman fired some more shots, hitting two other men. One man was shot in the side of the abdomen and the other man was shot in the chest as they attempted to escape from the murderous gunfire.
A man who was under the shed responded to the gunfire by shooting at the gunman, hitting him in the chest and back, but the gunman was still able to escape.
There were about 20 to 30 people recreating at Wadani at the time.
When police arrived at the scene at about 7:30 Saturday night, they found that the shooting victims had already been taken to the Southern Regional Hospital. They immediately went to the hospital and found Gerald Tillett, who had a gunshot wound in the back of the head; they also saw David Rodriguez, 46, a businessman of Magoon Street, Dangriga, with a gunshot wound in the chest, and Carlos Sharp, 37, the manager of Coco Plum Resort, Stann Creek District, with a gunshot wound in the right side of the abdomen.
Sharp, we were told, is the nephew of the husband of Marie Sharp, the hot sauce magnate.
The shooting victims were subsequently taken to the Western Regional Hospital, where Gerald Tillett was pronounced dead at 11:00 p.m.
Police say that while they were at the hospital conducting an initial investigation, a taxicab brought a man suffering from with gunshots wounds for treatment. That fourth person was Nicholas Swaso, 37, of Dangriga. He had been shot in the back and the chest.
Swaso was admitted to ward, under police custody. Police say that when he is released from the hospital, he will be charged for the murder of “Shiny” Tillett, as well as with two counts of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and grievous dangerous harm.
Police are anticipating more shootings in the wake of the execution of the reputed boss of the George Street gang, and have since increased patrols and roadblocks in the city, and in Dangriga.
Superintendent Alden Dawson, Deputy Commander of Eastern Division police, said that they are in communication with Dangriga police as well as the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) in Belize City, as they anticipate retaliation from gang members.
Actions taken by police have included an order that stores be shut down by 9:00 p.m. and the shutting down of nightclubs by midnight. Supt. Dawson said that they are just enforcing some laws that are on the books and that they started their efforts at putting these laws into effect last week.
The motive for the murder is not yet known.
“Shiny” Tillett usually went to the Wadani with his friends and bodyguards, we were told, but they had just gone to the store when the gunman launched his attack.
Tillett is the third son of the Tillett family to lose his life to gun violence. The first son was Dean Tillett, while the second son was Sheldon “Pinky” Tillett, the declared boss of the George Street gang, whom Shiny succeeded after Pinky was murdered in 2012.
The death of “Shiny” Tillett will leave a vacuum in the leadership and many believe that there will be a power struggle among ambitious gang members to take command of the street gang.