Headline — 04 June 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Gunmen kill Las Flores bar patron

The victim and his friend were shot outside the bar; one died, one lived

One man was shot dead and another man was shot in the leg and foot when they attempted to stop a robbery in a Las Flores bar in the Belmopan area that occurred at about 12:05 a.m. on Saturday, June 2.

Isabel Antonio Ballona, 43, a Salvadoran, died after he was shot in the left side of his head, while Manuel Aquino, 50, also a Salvadoran, of Las Flores, Belmopan, was shot in the right leg and left foot. He was also beaten in the chest.

Police said that the two men were socializing at the La Chazo Bar in Las Flores when four armed, masked men came to the bar and held up the owner, Joshua Lopez, 54, at gunpoint, demanding money.

Police say that the four assailants were dressed in long-sleeved black shirts and black pants, and were wearing masks and gloves.

The gunmen stole $600 from the owner, along with his vehicle keys and his cell phone. After taking the money that Lopez was carrying, the thieves reportedly went to the cash drawer and stole all the money that was in it, which was about $3,000.

As they were trying to make their getaway in Lopez’s vehicle, however, Aquino and Ballona intervened and tried to stop them.

The robbers shot them, then they beat and stomped Aquino, after which they drove away in the vehicle, a white 2000 Chevy Prizm car with license plate BMP-3475.

Aquino and Ballona were transported to the Belmopan Hospital, where Ballona was pronounced dead on arrival, and Aquino was admitted to ward, where he is now receiving treatment.

Ballona’s friend told Amandala that they were at the bar and saw when the four masked men came in and held up Lopez. The friend said that the robbers pushed them and told them to get back, but Aquino and Ballona came back and tried again to stop the thieves from taking the car, and that was when they were shot and Aquino was beaten and stomped.

Police arrested six persons today, Monday, and hope to charge them with murder, robbery and handling stolen goods.

Police said that they were on Ramirez Street in Belmopan today when they saw four men, who were students, acting suspiciously. Police quickly detained the men and searched them.

Police found in the men’s possession: (1) Grey Samsung Digicell phone and $95 US in cash belonging to Joshua Lopez, the proprietor of La Chazo Bar in Belmopan. Further searches and investigation led to the discovery of Joshua Lopez’s white 2000 Chevy Prizm, which the robbers used to get away after robbing the bar and shooting the men.

Police as a result detained the four students and two other students (two of whom are 19, two of whom are 18, and two being minors — one 15 and the other 13.)

Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, the Commander of Belmopan Police, said that they are confident that the six persons in their custody are the thieves who robbed La Chazo Bar and shot the two men. They are also investigating whether the same men are in fact responsible for a number of other robberies in the Belmopan area, including the robbery of the University of Belize students in their dorms, which occurred in April of this year.

Aquino’s wife said that she was at home, in the same compound as the club, when she heard the gunshots. She rushed to the bar and saw the two men outside on the ground. She quickly called the police and the ambulance.

The ambulance came and took Ballona to the Belmopan Hospital, then returned for her husband. Her husband is recovering, but she was told that Ballona died on arrival at the hospital. This is the first time that such violence has occurred in such a peaceful area, she said. She said that Ballona often went to lend a helping hand to her husband, and was their friend.

Ballona’s family reside in San Salvador, but his loved ones in Belize are trying to raise money to buy a coffin which costs $900 at the Belize Central Prison. They have not been able to get any contribution from their area representative, a sitting government minister, who told them, they said, that he doesn’t have any money.

Members of the public who want to assist can call Alexie Lopez at 668- 8290. They are asking that assistance be given as quickly as possible. After a post-mortem is conducted on the body tomorrow, Tuesday, at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, the body must be removed; otherwise they will be charged $50 per day.

Ballona’s friends are hoping that the Belmopan City Council will assist them in burying the deceased Ballona.

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