Headline — 21 March 2018 — by Albert J. Ciego
A murderous weekend

6 dead and 5 injured in 8 shootings in just over 48 hours

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 19, 2018– A surge of deadly shootings in the city over the weekend has claimed the lives of five people, including two women, Teresita Flowers, 64, and Delcia Blanco, 17, of Tibruce Street. A sixth murder, that of Alexi Palma, 23, occurred in Chan Pine Ridge, Orange Walk District.

Besides Palma, Flores and Blanco, dead are Victor Gibbs, Kendis Flowers, and Denton Alvarez, all of Belize City.

 Also, over the weekend there were three more shootings, but the victims survived.

The madness began at about 6:30 Friday evening. Victor Gibbs, 30, a salesman of Mex Avenue, Belize City, was driving in his Ford Escape SUV on East Canal from South Street to Orange Street when, on his arrival at the stop sign at the corner of King Street and East Canal, an unknown man rode up on a bicycle and shot Gibbs.

Police found Gibbs dead in his vehicle in the middle of the street, slumped over the steering wheel with gunshots wounds in his head and cheeks and in the back of his left ear. About five expended shells were found. Police do not yet know the motive for the shooting.

Several hours later, at about 3:00 Saturday morning, Kendis Flowers, 27, of Mayflower Street, was found dead on Sittee Street, lying face-up with a 9mm pistol in his hand. He had been shot in the right eye.

During a media brief yesterday evening at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie said that sometime Friday night, Flowers was at a popular nightclub when he became involved in an altercation with some men.

Flowers and a friend, Maleek Pitts, got into a taxi, reportedly to go pick up Flowers’ gun, and he returned armed and went to confront the men, but when he pulled out his gun to shoot, the gun malfunctioned and consequently, Flowers was shot.

About a half hour later, at about 3:30 that same Saturday morning, police went to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) and saw Maleek Pitts, 23, of Belize City, with a gunshot wound in his  upper left leg. Police said that Pitts was with Flowers during the shooting, and had been shot. He was treated and released from the KHMH, but has been detained.

Commissioner Whylie said that three men have been detained for investigation.

Subsequent shootings later on Saturday and on Sunday caused more fatalities and left more persons injured. Brian Welch, 30, a stevedore of Belize City, is currently fighting for his life in the intensive care unit at the Karl Heusner Memorial after he was shot in the chest and the back by one of two men who fired at him while he was walking on Gibnut Street at about 5:30 Saturday evening.

Information to us is that Welch was walking from Central American Boulevard, towards Curassow Street, when two men on a motorcycle rode towards him, and fired at him.

Welch was hit, and he fell. The shooters then rode away on the motorcycle, and he was rushed to the hospital.

Then at about 7:00 Saturday evening, March 17,  Teresita Flowers, 64, a mother of 8 children and grandmother of many grandchildren; Delcia Blanco, 17,  a girl who had been residing with her, and  Blanco’s friend, Shaniqua Requeña, 16, were in Flowers’ house on Tibruce Street sitting around a table having supper when, according to her eldest daughter, Andrea Tucker, a family friend who was in the yard ran into the house and said “gunman,” and he escaped through the backyard.

Delcia Blanco tried to lock the door, but the gunman forced open the door and shot her in the forehead, killing her instantly. He then shot Flowers, Tucker’s mother.

Flowers had tried to escape, but she was shot in the back and buttocks and fell on the floor. She died almost immediately.

Tucker’s niece, 9, escaped injury by hiding under the bed.

Requeña was shot in the arm, but she also was able to escape death by hiding under a bed.

The killer subsequently escaped.

When police went to the house, they saw the two women dead in the house; they were taken to the morgue at the KHMH. At the hospital, police also saw Requeña, who had been shot in the arm.

During the police brief held yesterday, Sunday, Commissioner Allen Whylie said that an investigation revealed that the shooting of Flowers was in retaliation for the death of Bernadine Lauriano, 53, a sanitation worker who was killed in her house last Friday, March 9, on Aloe Vera Street in Lake Independence.

A man has been detained in connection with this double murder (Flowers and Blanco), while the investigation continues.

ASP Alejandro Cowo, Commander of Crimes Investigation, said that about an hour after the shooting at Flowers’ house on Tibruce Street, some men went back to the yard and fired shots.  Police went to the KHMH, where they found Daniel Hughes, 19, a fisherman of Aloe Vera Street, suffering with gunshot wounds to the leg.

Hughes told police that he was shot by one of two men while walking on Aloe Vera Street. However, police detained him for investigation of the double murder.

The fifth murder occurred at about 9:00 Saturday night. Reports to us are that Delroy Llewellyn Alvarez, 31, a driver of Central American Boulevard, was riding his motorcycle on Nargusta Street, in the city, when he stopped to park his motorcycle at the corner of Nargusta and Hondo Street.

He was talking to a woman when a man walked up and shot him multiple times. The assailant then escaped from the scene.

Alvarez was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival. No one has been arrested for the murder; police believe that the murder was motivated by jealousy, that Alvarez was having an affair with a woman, which led to the shooting. They are looking for a man who is known to them.

Then at about 9:00 Sunday morning, Robert Strickler, a security guard, was walking on South Creek Road when he stopped and began to talk with a man, when an unknown gunman fired at them from some bushes across North Creek, hitting him in the back. The shooter then escaped.

Strickler was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and was admitted in a serious condition.

Police believe that the shooting was a result of ongoing gang rivalry between two gangs of the area; that he was not the intended target, but that the shooters had actually intended to hit the man with whom he had been talking, who lived on Supaul Street.

Later, at about 9:00 Sunday night, Orange Walk police were called to an area in Chan Pine Ridge, where they found Alexi Palma, 23, a taxi driver of Orange Walk, lying on the back seat of his taxi car with a gunshot wound in the back of the head. He was already dead.

His body was taken to the Northern Regional Hospital, and deposited at the morgue.  During the weekly police press brief held this morning at the Raccoon Street Police Station, ASP Alejandro Cowo said that Palma had been in the country for about 3 months, making his living as a taxi driver. Police are not certain why he was killed, but are looking for a suspect in the Orange Walk District who they believe can help them with this murder investigation.

The shooting of Flores and Blanco is actually the second incident to have occurred in recent days in which a killer has invaded a house and shot innocent women and young ones. Just eight days ago, on the night of March 9, Bernadine Lauriano, 53; her daughter, 9; and her son, 20, who is physically handicapped, were in their house on Aloe Vera Street when a gunman went into the house and opened fire on her, killing her almost immediately.

The gunman also shot her daughter in the arm and foot, and shot her son in the leg.

The sudden surge of shootings and murders has prompted the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow to hold a press conference announcing new measures to combat the surge of deadly crime, mostly in Belize City.

 

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