BELIZE CITY, Tues. May 5, 2015–After an agonizing five days on life support at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) in Belize City, Travis Polanco, 6, who was unfortunately shot in the head with a 16-gauge shotgun by another minor last Thursday, April 30, succumbed to his injuries at about 10:30 a.m. today.
Initial reports were that Polanco and his young neighbor – who police said is actually 11 and not 9 years old as was previously reported – were playing near a palm tree about 50 feet away from Polanco’s house at the Valley Community on the Hummingbird Highway in the Stann Creek District when the 11-year-old boy suddenly went into his house, retrieved his father’s licensed Harrington and Richardson shotgun from a room, pointed it through his window and allegedly shot the 6-year old student, who was reportedly standing about 5 feet from the street.
Police, however, issued a release on the incident today, Tuesday, that gave a reason, albeit absurd, for the shooting: “Initial investigations revealed that while Travis was coming from school, he started throwing rocks in the direction of the 11-year-old, who reportedly went inside his home and got his father’s licensed 16-gauge shotgun from a room and reportedly fired a single shot at Travis, who was standing about 50 feet away near the palm tree.”
Polanco was hit with pellets in the head, nose and cheek.
Police informed Amandala that their investigations have also shown that the alleged shooter actually loaded the shotgun before he shot Polanco.
At the time of the incident, which was at around 4:45 p.m., the 11-year-old had reportedly been at home alone, since his parents were, respectively, working and grocery shopping in Dangriga Town.
Travis was rushed to the Southern Regional Hospital and later transported to the KHMH for further treatment, but according to his parents, Thomas Polanco and Gurly Bahadur, that process took about five hour due to mechanical failure on the part of one ambulance and lack of fuel on the part of the other.
Yesterday, Monday, Polanco was declared brain dead by medical authorities, and today, they made the difficult decision to take him off life support.
The parents adamantly believe that the father of the 11-year old boy should be reprimanded for the incident.
Polanco’s father told us today that he and Travis’ mother chose to take him off life support because they were aware that his chances of survival were very minimal. He added that his son died about five minutes after being taken off the machine, and that the family is extremely distraught, especially since they had lost another child five years ago, and Travis was one of four remaining children.
We understand that the 11-year-old minor – who is said to have been a good friend of Polanco – has since been placed in the custody of the Human Services Department for psychiatric evaluation as investigations into the matter continue.
By law, however, the minor cannot be criminally charged for the incident because of his age.
Thomas Polanco did indicate, though, that the 11-year old boy had threatened to shoot his son, Travis, about 6 months ago.
For their part, Dangriga police have said that while laxity of the gun’s licensed holder may have played a contributing role in the tragic incident, at this time, it has not been determined whether any action will be taken against that person.
Travis Polanco will be laid to rest this weekend, and his father informed us that they are in need of assistance to defray their medical and funeral expenses.
They can be reached at either 625-8128 or 666-7122.