Marvin “Bip” Echeverria, 17, a Santa Elena student, is dead tonight. His two brothers, Ruben and Myro, were detained at the Santa Elena Police Station, Ruben after being shot and Myro after being stabbed; Justin Gordon, 18, was stabbed; and three policemen in civilian clothing – Filiberto Pott, PC #292 Roland Augustine and Sergeant Enrique Aldana, were later shot as they were processing the scene of the violence in Santa Elena, Cayo, between the Echeverria and Galindo families.
Pott is still hospitalized at the Western Regional Hospital, where he is receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the upper chest. The bullet exited his lower back and damaged his lung. The reason it exited that low in his back, was because he was bent over inspecting the crime scene.
His other two colleagues were grazed on their legs. Augustine was released, while Sergeant Aldana is still hospitalized.
Marvin Echeverria did not live to see his 18th birthday, which he would have celebrated today. And his family has to deal with the fact that police believe that it was Marvin’s eldest brother, Ruben, who did the shooting, and accidentally shot himself in the foot in the process.
Today, police arrested Rueben “Bengue-T” Echeverria, 25, and charged him with attempted murder, dangerous harm and use of deadly means of harm. He was represented by former Solicitor General, Elson Kaseke, for whom he drives, and bail of $3,000 was granted, and met.
Amandala traveled to San Ignacio/Santa Elena today to speak with one of the unlucky officers who were shot, family members of Echeverria and occupants of the home of the Galindo family, where the shooting incident reportedly occurred, on Perez Street. The police’s version and that of the Galindo family are basically the same, while the Echeverria family gave us a different story.
According to police reports, they are not only investigating Marvin’s murder, but also a stabbing incident that occurred at the same time of the shooting, around 6:30 on Saturday evening, August 4.
Police say that a group of Santa Elena men decided to invade a home on Perez Street to confront two brothers – David Galindo, 22, and George Galindo, 20 and that was when one of the young men from the visiting group was shot and killed.
The group of attackers reportedly ran into Justin Gordon, 18, at the gate of the Galindo residence. They knew him to be an associate of the two brothers whom they had gone to confront.
One of the young men from the invading group then pulled out a knife and stabbed Gordon, say police, and Gordon ran for safety. He sustained four stab wounds, all in the back. He is today hospitalized at the Western Regional Hospital, after being transferred from the San Ignacio Hospital.
Police added that they believe that the deceased Marvin was actually shot by a member of his own group shortly after confronting the Galindo brothers. Police said that Ruben was shot in his right foot, but they are also investigating the possibility that this wound may have been self-inflicted. Myro reportedly was stabbed in the upper part of his chest. He was treated and released.
Another police report said that about 10:30 the same Saturday night, some men who were apparently waiting behind a zinc fence nearby, shot two police officers and a scenes-of-crime officer as they were processing the crime scene.
Police added that they believe that this is the result of a dispute between different groups from the area, noting that because it was night, the officers may have been mistaken for members of the hostile group because they were not in uniform.
They have since detained several men in connection with the three incidents – the stabbing, the first, fatal shooting and the shooting of the policemen. The incidents are all linked, the report added.
The men who reside at the home where the shooting occurred, showed us the many bullet holes in their yard today – holes on the fence, on the wall, on a chair and one which damaged a windshield – and explained that this was revenge for a stabbing incident that took place a couple months before, and for which the Galindo brothers, who reside at the residence, had been charged.
One of the youths said that he looked on as they stabbed Justin, whom he calls “J”, several times before they rushed into the yard. They could have suspected that the Echeverria crowd was up to something because the youth who had been stabbed by the Galindo brothers passed their house earlier. Later they began forming a crowd and were drinking Campari with milk, just up the street. They began making noise.
It was about twenty to twenty-five youths, including Marvin Echeverria and his two brothers, who came rushing into the yard with big stones and sticks, our source added. They began stoning the glass louvers, breaking out eleven from the double front window, which we observed. The windows on the upper flat were also destroyed and the big stones lay on the ground, as evidence.
The men began stomping on the front and back doors, but the doors had been closed because there were so many children inside. Two of the men, one of the Galindo brothers, were outside however, and those were the two who were attacked.
They heard a gunshot, followed by about five more, said the young man, and they later saw some of the men from the invading group lifting Marvin and taking him out of the yard.
We spoke with Filiberto Pott, who said that he was at home when he got the call to go to the crime scene. The policemen were there for about half an hour, in a dark location behind the yard, when they started hearing shots. The lawmen ran for refuge in the Galindo home, but when he felt the burning sensation in his upper chest he knew that he had been shot.
He could not recall just how many shots were fired, said Filiberto. All three policemen, though, sought refuge inside the home. He said that he and his colleagues were rushed to San Ignacio Hospital, but later transferred to the Western Regional Hospital, where a tube is presently attached to his lung to allow the blood to be removed from inside.
After five days of flushing out the blood, he will be monitored to se if he is fit enough to be released. His prognosis however, is good.
The Echeverria family has a different account of the incident, and deny that the shooting took place at the Galindo residence.
Marvin’s sister, Yolanda, could not help but cry out her pain as she told the newspaper how she stood and watched as her three brothers were shot. Her story was entirely different from the other two stories we had heard.
She said that Marvin left home; dressed in a ¾ jeans pants, his sneakers and a sky blue rag tied over his head, about 5:30 the evening. He said that he was going to go to a house on Perez Street to get his hair braided.
Later though, as she was outside of her home, which meets with Perez Street and forms an “L,” (their home being on the shorter portion of the “L”), she saw many people heading up that side. She knew that her brother had had altercations with some young men already, and besides the fact that they attempted to stab him, they also threatened his life, so she jumped into her car and decided to see what was happening.
When she got there she parked her car at the corner of the lane from the hair braiding shop and saw her three brothers. Two were standing outside and Marvin was inside of the yard when she saw four youths with guns on the side of the fence begin to fire shots. Marvin ran. His brothers rushed to his aid when he fell, and that is when they were also shot. She quickly jumped into her car and rushed home to call the police, before heading to the San Ignacio Hospital.
When she got there her brother was still alive and was asking to see his mother, but never did. Marvin succumbed to his injuries about an hour later.
Yolanda swears that none of her brothers had any sticks, stones, or any type of weapons. Her brother once hung out with the group that shot and killed him, said Yolanda, but because they had warned him about the type of company, he did not hang with them any longer.
So today, instead of celebrating Marvin’s birthday and preparing to see him enter his fourth year at Mopan Technical High School, the Echeverria family are now preparing for a funeral.
Besides Yolanda and his other two brothers, Marvin leaves behind his mother, Yolanda Echeverria; his father, Geraldo Echeverria, and several other relatives and friends to mourn his death.
No funeral arrangements have yet been made.