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Alrick Smith—man with “nine lives”—killed in front of MORE FM

HeadlineAlrick Smith—man with “nine lives”—killed in front of MORE FM

 Alrick Smith, 36, a well-known street figure who escaped death multiple times, was fatally gunned down after leaving the Rene Villanueva Media Center following his participation in a short radio segment on MORE FM.

By Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022

The man who was referred to in the streets as “a cat with 9 lives”, 36-year-old Alrick Smith, an affiliate of the PIV Bloods gang who had escaped death after being shot on a number of previous occasions, was executed a little after 10:00 p.m. after briefly being a guest on a MORE FM radio show at the Rene Villanueva Media Center on Slaughterhouse Road on Thursday night, July 28.

Smith’s final moments were captured by the surveillance camera, and in that footage, he could be seen entering the building along with a female companion at around 9:46 p.m. The footage also shows a silver Chevy Equinox stopping in front of the building for a few seconds after Smith entered, then driving off. That same vehicle would return to the scene a few minutes later.

While in the building, Smith and his female companion made their way to the studios of MORE FM, where a regular Thursday night radio show featuring Blue Steel Sounds was in progress, and Smith, in a short segment, joined the hosts on-air to promote his business, Car Guys, and to give away cash prizes to some listeners.

After Smith’s participation in that segment was done, he exited the building at around 10:03 p.m. and was casually greeted by some bystanders who were in front of the media center. At that point, he stepped outside the frame of the surveillance camera and was no longer visible in the recorded footage. That was the point at which he was besieged by bullets that purportedly were fired by the occupants of the silver Chevy Equinox that was seen earlier. He reportedly died on the spot. The car, with the gunmen inside, then sped away.

Notably, dents could be observed on the doors of the Chevy Equinox that had been seen in the surveillance camera footage of the shooting, and over the weekend, images of burnt remains of that same vehicle (which was found on the John Smith Road) were circulated throughout social media. On Tuesday, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams confirmed to local media that it was the getaway vehicle used by the shooters.

On the following day, Commissioner Williams informed the media that his department had found out that the Chevy Equinox used in the murder was brought into the country by Jody (Jedd) Burgess of the St. Martins De Porres area and was sold to Justin Usher, who flew out of the country on the day after the murder took place. Williams additionally noted that on the night of Smith’s murder, two persons were seen in the vehicle—one being a relative of Burgess and the other being Burgess’ close associate, according to reports.

“From what we made to understand, is that the day after the shooting, Justin Usher left the country. Certainly, him leaving the country may have been pre-planned, because you can’t just go to the airport and show up and catch a plane. You need to book your ticket at least 48 hours ahead. Notwithstanding that, though, we do believe that Justin Usher has some questions to answer. The two persons who we have been told were in the vehicle, we also have been reliably informed that one of them may be on their way to the US through the back; we’re still trying to confirm that. So what we have done is that to inform our Mexican counterparts, we have also put out wanted posters for Justin Usher and we will see if we can locate the other individual who is [a] close relative to Jody Burgess, who we believe is still in the country. But that group of four, we believe has all the answers to the murder of Alrick Smith, as we have now confirmed that his murder was inter-gang related,” explained Compol Williams.

Williams then went on to point to possible motives for the murder: “Certainly, from what we have obtained, it is over a woman. We also have second information that it may be over money, but the most credible one is that it is over a woman,” he said.

Before turning his life around and becoming a reputable car dealer, Smith was a notorious gang figure in the streets of Belize City and had been charged with numerous offenses. In 2014, he was accused of attempting to kill four on-duty police officers. Also, in 2016, he was accused of seeking to murder an entire family.

Notably, Thursday night’s shooting was the most recent of a series of attempts over the years to end his life, and the success of that final attempt startled many of his loved ones, who had begun to believe that he could defy death. In 2019, a gunman attempted to end his life, but only grazed him at the back of his head. Later that same year, he was shot at while socializing on Curl Thompson Street.

Kayla Flowers, Smith’s sister, told local reporters that his family had expected that he would become the target of gunmen again, but they did not expect another shooting to occur so soon, and they had begun to believe that he would survive any such attempts.

Flowers recalled how close she and her brother were during their childhood, when they were inseparable.

“[We] grew up together. Everything that we do together. If he is going to fix a bike, it would be me and him together. If he goes driving around to go look for someone, it would be me and him together. We’re always around. When he was younger, he had a lot of girlfriends, and I used to be the one he would take when he used to buy ice cream, and if he liked you he would buy you ice cream. That’s the way how I know him, that’s the way we grew up. We did everything together,” she said.

Interestingly, the chairman of the United Democratic Party, Senator Michael Peyrefitte, made an explosive claim in relation to the Alrick Smith murder while he was a guest on the UDP’s morning radio show, Fus Ting da Mawning. According to Peyrefitte, a police corporal with ties to the current administration might have been involved in the shooting, but attempts by police to detain him for questioning as a possible person of interest were suddenly halted after a call was made by a person of high rank within the administration, who instructed the officers not to proceed with the detainment of the corporal. Peyrefitte further claimed that the police corporal is a driver for a government official. Commissioner Williams, however, denied those allegations and told reporters that it was he, Williams, who told the officers to refrain from detaining the police officer, since there was in fact no sound basis for believing the officer was in any way involved in the shooting or connected to the shooters.  

“In the wake of the murder [of] Alrick Smith, we had received information that the vehicle that was involved in the murder was parked at a particular house in the Japan area of Ladyville. Based on [the] information obtained, I directed that the police go to the house and retrieve the vehicle as well as whoever is the occupant of the particular home. Police visited the area … the house was seen with no one inside. I ordered a surveillance team be put in place to ascertain who lives at the house, because if the policeman that they were saying lived at that particular house, we know for a fact that he does not live there. He lives miles and miles away. And we also know for a fact that his parents also do not live there. They live much more down the road. So at the end of the day, certainly, the police officer that they were saying lived at the house or parents lived at the house, neither of [that] information was true,” said Commissioner Williams.

Williams further explained, “… somehow I was made to understand that, [the] directive was given to go and pick up the particular police officer and detain him. That information reached me, and I was the one who called the team that went to detain the officer and told them to stand down because of the fact that it is clear that he had absolutely nothing to do with the house, where he was alleging the vehicle was parked, and neither did he have anything to do with the investigation … I, again, insisted that we ascertain who lives at the particular house; that was done, and we [learned] that the person who lives [in] the house is a guy who works as an air traffic controller at the PGIA, and we got this information through the landlord. What we also learned, the police officer in question, he did live at the house. Over four years ago he moved out from that house and now resides with his wife miles and miles away.”

Smith leaves behind three children: two girls and one boy.

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