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Former Southside street figure murdered during SOE

GeneralFormer Southside street figure murdered during SOE

Photo: Clay Monsanto, deceased

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CTY, Tues. Apr. 2, 2024

With an active State of Emergency (SOE) over the Southside of Belize City, the Easter holidays were scheduled to go without a hitch. However, as Good Friday rolled around, so did the news of 52-year-old Clay Monsanto’s murder.

According to the reports, sometime around 4:00 p.m., police responded to calls from McKenzie Street in the Lake Independence area where they discovered Monsanto at his residence with multiple gunshot injuries to his body.

It was revealed that Monsanto and some friends were socializing when an unknown gunman jumped into his yard and opened fire with as many as 20 shots, before escaping on the back of a motorcycle that was waiting for him.

Monsanto was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A former well-known street figure who was once believed to be a part of the Ghost Town Crips, Clay Monsanto was a recently returned deportee from the U.S., after reportedly spending some time in a U.S. prison.

Despite police’s suspicion decades ago of his involvement in a number of crimes, he had avoided charges due to lack of evidence. His last known brush with the law was back in 2004 when he was wanted for questioning about a murder, but he fled the country.

Police are currently seeking several suspects with connections to his past and are viewing surveillance footage concerning the incident.

His older brother, Raymond Gongora, better known as “Footie”, described the news of his brother’s death as a “nightmare”.

“Me and my brother talked every night. He used to come and sit with me a lot; because he came back, not to be in any gang, but to be with his kids. And when I went over there and saw him in the position he was in, and all the shots in his head, I said, what could have gotten him like that, because he never used to live like that. They executed him,” he told us.

Monsanto was determined to turn a new leaf, and was indeed recognized by his family and community for his caring spirit.

Gongora, a former captain of the Kremandala Raiders, described his brother as a “jovial” person. “He helped any and everybody. He was just a people person. If you had known Clay, it was hard not to love him,” he said.

One neighbor described him as a very cool and friendly person who always looked out for, and helped others. She never had any complaints about him.

Another man said that Monsanto would always come over and see how he was doing. He also said there was a conspiracy about that Monsanto had used his infant child as a shield during a shooting that occurred over 20 years ago; when it was the contrary, that Monsanto had tried to rescue his child, but it was too late.

Monsanto also enjoyed hosting small football games in his yard with kids from the neighborhood, something that had just taken place a few hours before the incident.

According to his neighbor, it wasn’t until he heard that men wanted to come for him, that he told them to leave his yard. “The streets talk,” he said.

Although his brother denies Monsanto’s knowledge of this, he says he is not looking for any retaliation, but chooses to remember his brother as the jovial and peaceful person he was.

“I don’t even want anybody to retaliate, because that won’t bring back Clay, and you’ll only be killing out our own anyway, because we’re all black kids. I wouldn’t even see a reason how you could hurt Clay like that, because he wasn’t into that life anymore; but maybe his past came back to haunt him, because maybe they don’t trust him,” he said.

“I don’t care what people may say, but I know who Clay was; he loved me and I loved him.”

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