General — 04 April 2012 — by Albert J. Ciego
Caye Caulker police are conducting a village-wide manhunt for a teenager who shot their fellow officer in his head and stole two of their firearms in Caye Caulker around 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 2.
Along with the Anti-Drug Unit (ADU) and the Coast Guard, they are conducting an intensive and aggressive land and sea patrol for a person identified as Ernesto Bernardez, 16, of the San Pedrito area, San Pedro Town.
Police said that on Monday, April 2, around 5:00 p.m. Bernardez, who was wanted on a charge of robbery, shot Constable John Valerio of the Caye Caulker Police when he tried to arrest him at the village airstrip where he was trying to board a plane to escape from Caye Caulker.
Bernardez struggled with Valerio, and reportedly managed to take away the officer’s firearm. He then fired two shots at the officer, hitting him in the side of his head. Bernardez then escaped into the Puesto Bahia del Sol area, taking the officer’s service revolver.
When police backup came, they saw Valerio walking up the road, bloodied. They immediately took him to the clinic in the police mobile.
PC Valerio was rushed to the Caye Caulker Clinic, after which he was flown to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where doctors examined him and classified his injury as wounding. He was treated and has since been released.
Police said that the previous day, Sunday, April 1, around 2:00 a.m., a special constable of Caye Caulker was robbed by Bernardez, who took away his firearm and threatened to kill him.
The constable was going home when he was stopped by Bernardez, who asked for a ride.
When he got on the motorcycle the officer was riding, however, Bernardez suddenly grabbed the firearm from the constable’s pocket and aimed it at him. Bernardez then escaped into the night with the 9mm pistol.
Police are now trying to capture Bernardez to recover the two firearms, and to charge him with a battery of charges which will include attempted murder for the shooting of PC Valerio, theft, use of deadly means of harm, aggravated assault and wounding.