BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 14, 2018– The evening rush hour was still underway, shortly before 6:00 p.m., when gunfire erupted on Collet Canal. When the gunfire stopped, the lives of two middle-aged businessmen were destroyed forever.
One man lay dead in a pool of his own blood in his yard, while his next-door neighbor was in handcuffs, the beginning of his entry into the criminal justice system. He will join a long line of accused murderers on remand at the Belize Central Prison.
No one knows what could have triggered the violent outburst of jeweler Manuel Pacheco, who doesn’t live at the location but has a business there, but witnesses said he fired a number of shots at his next-door neighbor, Jose Villanueva, a car dealer and businessman who owned a small shop on Cemetery Road.
A BERT ambulance pulled up behind the crowd that had gathered behind the police crime scene marker. The ambulance waited for a few minutes before it reversed and left the scene.
A young woman walked past the police line saying tearfully, “that is my father,” as she headed toward Pacheco’s Jewelry shop, and disappeared briefly.
Another young woman sat on the street in obvious sorrow as she occasionally put her head on her knees, sitting against the front wheel of a parked car. She was joined shortly by a young man and a woman.
Voices in the crowd identified them as the family of Jose Villanueva — his son, daughter and wife. They waited on the street in front of their yard as Scenes of Crime technicians worked the crime scene with Villanueva’s body still lying inside his yard.
We could not speak to police, because they were still working the scene.