CROSS CAYE, Stann Creek District, Fri. Aug. 9, 2019– Derrick Ramirez, 24, a fisherman of Dangriga who was the target of a shooting last Sunday, August 4, on Cross Caye, went missing after he ran into mangroves to get away from a shooter who ran after him and shot at him multiple times before escaping with two men in a boat.
Coast Guard officers captured three men in the area and handed them over to police today, August 9, on Cross Caye, where the police search party had been looking for Derrick Ramirez. One of the three men who were handed over was Oscar Williams, who is believed by police to be the main suspect in the shooting and disappearance of Derrick Ramirez.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Joseph Myvett told us today during a police press brief held at the Raccoon Street Police Station, that the policemen who received the suspects from the Coast Guard included an inspector who is Derrick Ramirez’s brother.
The inspector and a constable took the main suspect away from the other suspects to interview him out of the sight and hearing of the others.
After some time had passed, the inspector and the constable returned and told the others that Oscar Williams had escaped from them and that they could not locate him.
The Coast Guard and the police launched a search to find Williams on the 5-acre caye, but the effort was in vain. Police and Coast Guard are now looking for both shooting victim Ramirez and the main suspect in his disappearance, Oscar Williams. So far, none of the men have been found.
However, the police high command is not buying the story of Williams’ disappearance. During a police press brief held today, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said that they do not believe the version of events that was given by the inspector, and he asked how could a man whose hands were handcuffed run away and escape from two policemen on an island.
He said that they are taking the matter seriously, and that both officers have been detained pending investigation, both internally and criminally. If sufficient evidence cannot be gathered to charge them criminally, they will be charged internally for bringing the department into disrepute and permitting a prisoner to escape.
ComPol Williams said that if Williams’ body is found, then what happened to him will be revealed, and it will be dealt with.
Compol Williams said that the inspector had been transferred from Dangriga police and should not have been a part of the case, and should not have been in the area, in order to ensure proper management and transparency.
They, the police, will not condone the behavior and he will be dealt with. The other police officers who were at the scene have given their statement and are cooperating fully, but the constable who was with the inspector is not cooperating.
The Compol said that the constable has been put on charge and will face a police tribunal. Also, a legal team has been assembled and is making preparations to take the inspector before the Public Service Commission.
Compol Williams said that there are many questions in relation to the case that have to be answered, including the fact that the police were not informed of the shooting, which occurred on Sunday, until Tuesday, and even the two men who were along with Ramirez are now suspects in Ramirez’s disappearance.
Last Sunday, April 4, two brothers, Derrick Ramirez, 24, and Kevin Hernandez, 27, and their brother-in-law, Joseph Coleman, 27, all of whom reside in Dangriga, went fishing and diving for lobsters at Cross Caye in the Stann Creek District, and sometime around midday, while they were diving, a boat with three men came up and the captain ordered them to stop diving in the area, and told them that the area belongs to him.
Kevin Hernandez reported that he recognized the captain of the boat.
Ramirez and his two companions, who were about half a mile away from Cross Caye, where their camp was located, then made their way back to shore, to their camp.
While gathering their belongings to leave the area, the boat with the men arrived. The captain stayed on board, but two of the men got out with firearms and approached Ramirez and one of them fired at him.
His brother, Hernandez, told police that Ramirez ran into some mangroves to escape from the two men. Hernandez told police that he heard shots fired and saw the men coming out of the area. The men got back in their boat and left.
After the men left, Ramirez came out of the mangroves unhurt, and they continued packing their belongings.
Shortly after, the armed men returned, and when they saw Ramirez, the man fired at him again. At this point Ramirez ran into the mangroves again, and the men sprinted after him. Hernandez said that he heard many shots fired, and then he saw the two men come out of the mangroves and get back into their boat. The captain then left with the men in the boat.
After the shooters departed, Hernandez and Coleman then went to look for Ramirez in the mangroves, but an extensive search for him was in vain. They then went to the police in Dangriga and made a report.
Police said that they got the report on Tuesday, which is almost three days after the event.
Police reported that they and the Coast Guard had been to the caye to search for Ramirez, but they didn’t find him.
Ramirez is originally from Dangriga, but had lived in Belize City for the majority of his life, said police. Police said that he is known to them. They said that he returned to Dangriga to dodge police operations and anti-crime activities in Belize City.
Ramirez was the father of a very young child.