Headline — 24 March 2015 — by Kareem Clarke
Sugar City double murder; 2 teens die

ORANGE WALK TOWN, Mon. Mar. 23, 2015–A night of socializing quickly turned deadly for a pair of teenagers from Orange Walk Town, whose lives were cut short by a barrage of bullets that were fired in their direction over the past weekend.

Police said that last Saturday, March 21, at about 10:08 p.m., they responded to reports of a shooting at Boundary Store’s warehouse, located on the Palmar Boundary Road in Orange Walk Town.

When the officers arrived on the scene, they learned that a group of persons had been socializing at the said location when a gunman dressed in full black with a hooded sweater approached the group and fired several shots towards them.

As a result, Oscar Daniel Valdez, 16, of Dunn Street, Orange Walk Town, and Michael Usher, 17, of Royal Palms Street, also in Orange Walk, were hit.

Valdez reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of the neck, while Usher was shot in the right side of the chest.

The victims were both transported to the Northern Regional Hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries around 11:00 p.m. while undergoing treatment.

Police reportedly recovered 11 expended shells from the scene, and area residents told us that over a dozen shots were fired.

We were told that the culprit went to the area in a dark-colored Toyota Tacoma pickup, and after it was parked on a nearby street, he exited the vehicle, pulled out a firearm, approached the group, and started firing from across the street. He reportedly did not stop firing until the gun ran out of ammunition.

Deputy Officer in Charge of Orange Walk police, Inspector Selvin Tillett, informed us today that their investigations are ongoing and that they are looking from different angles, but so far, a motive is yet to be established for the shocking incident.

He mentioned that both of the shooting victims recently came to the notice of police when they were arrested for drug-related offences a few weeks ago — one for possession of controlled drugs and the other for drug trafficking,.

According to Tillett, one suspect in the double murder has since been detained, and they hope to make other arrests, since investigators have been privy to “certain leads which seem promising”.

While police have maintained that they are trying to get to the bottom of the situation, Valdez’s family has asserted that the incident can be traced to ever-increasing gang activity in the Orange Walk district.

Valdez’ sister, who was in Belize City for a post-mortem examination which was conducted on his body today, told the media that her brother had previously gotten death threats from the same persons who allegedly committed the crime, and that police knew of the situation, but had done nothing to address it.

She said, “This would not have reached so far, because this problem is from way back. The police know exactly what is the problem and who all are involved as well, because my little brother had always gotten threats and I was right there as a witness.”

“One time when I was standing with him at the front of my house, the guys passed and they always used to make gestures saying they would kill him, so we went to the station and reported it. And now that this incident has happened, I went there and they asked, ‘did you report it before?’ And I said, ‘yes’, but when they searched in the computers, there was no report, so that means that they never put it in the computer, and the police know exactly who all are involved, but they do nothing,” she claimed.

The grieving sister declared that while she is not able to pinpoint exactly what led to the incident on Saturday, she believes “it is something related to gang activity in the area.”

She noted that Valdez was a hardworking young man who never went to college, but “did part-time jobs as a mechanic, chopping yards, and stuff like that.”

“He used to work a lot; I can’t believe that he died like that. His death was so cruel; they killed him like an animal. I don’t know what else to say, it’s really hard, [and] I just want justice for my little brother”, she remarked, adding that the family is completely distraught by his passing.

“I just hope that the senior police officers [in Orange Walk] take action, because they know who all did this”, she told reporters in an emotional tone of voice.

Amandala contacted Inspector Tillett to get a response to those statements; however, he told us that they (police) “have no knowledge of what they [Valdez’s family] are talking about.”
Michael Usher’s family, on the other hand, declined an interview with the media today.

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