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Police bracing for reprisal for Ras Ben’s killing

GeneralPolice bracing for reprisal for Ras Ben's killing

“If it is that, we were to learn that a gunshot is fired in the area and it comes from their camp, game over. Because you have to understand, to go out and avenge what had happened is not going to return the dead. If going to avenge what has happened would return the dead, I would join them in avenging,” Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams said during an interview yesterday.

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 23, 2022 

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Benjamin Hyde, Sr., 49, the father of gang leader Christopher Hyde on Sunday afternoon (Father’s Day), the Police Department, keenly aware of the likelihood of attempts at revenge by Hyde’s group that could trigger a sequence of killings, took steps to dissuade Hyde, as well as those who reside in his neighborhood and are his affiliates, from engaging in acts of retaliation. Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams and a group of police officers went on Tuesday to the Rocky Road neighborhood near West Canal, where the Rocky Road Bloods gang that is reportedly headed by Christy Hyde, operates just a stone’s throw away from a rival gang on George Street. Since the shooting, the police have increased their presence in that area.

“The current situation involving the shooting death of the father on Father’s Day, Mr. Benjamin Hyde, is one that, as the Commissioner of Police, and even as a society as a whole, we cannot be insensitive about. Certainly, the loss of a loved one, and particularly a father figure is going to rip any family apart and may also cause a person to think violently,” Commissioner  Williams told local reporters during his walk in the area.

He said that while he did reach out to the residents of the neighborhood, the purpose of his visit was not to “pet and powder” any of the persons in the area who are involved in criminal activity, but to explain to the grieving persons in the area and their affiliates the position of the police, and to warn members of that group that any attempt at retaliation would lead to a swift police response.

“What I did yesterday was just primarily to reach out to the group in the Rocky Road area and explain to them what our position is. It was not to pet and power nobody, but to let them understand: while we understand your grief, we are going to leave you to grieve in peace, but if it is that you are going to grieve, it must be in peace. If you grieve and try to perpetrate violence, we will come at you, and you may not be able to attend the funeral of your father, so you make that decision now, whether you want to attend the funeral or not,” Commissioner Williams said.

Williams added, “So, our objective is to reach out, offer our condolences, our sympathy to the family, at the same time, telling them what we expect of them to do, and I am hoping that they will choose to remain calm and not do anything to retaliate because we certainly will come at them.”

Since the police have increased their presence in the area, two handguns have been found, a 9mm and a .38 revolver. Commissioner Williams says it is a result of the increased stop and search in the area. One person has been arrested and charged for the 9mm. 

According to the residents of the area, however, the police operation on Wednesday, during which the guns were found, was very different from the earlier visit. There was much less comfort and conciliation, and much more force deployed by the officers, who, according to some residents of the area, were abusive in their approach.

One resident of the area—presumably the individual found in possession of the firearms—was reportedly thrown into the back of a police pickup, and according to one Rocky Road resident, the officers, who apparently were searching for Christy Hyde, assaulted a young man.

“Well, they grab a young man and beat him and burst his mouth for no reason. At the end of the day those kinds of things are very unjust, because we are not doing anything. It’s not like they meet this young man in the act trying to shoot or rob somebody. They just came in our area and beat us up for nothing. They have killed our family and we are not looking for revenge. We are holding our peace and mourn the loss of a loved one. We are holding the peace and relax. Every time they come here they meet us relaxing …,” said the resident.

One resident lamented, “The police came and they started to manhandle people, and they came like we are committing any offense, like we are going out there to shoot people or do gun violence. We are mourning a loss of our family; we are not troubling anyone.”

Commissioner Williams stated, however, “Our presence in the area, constant operations, constant stop and search, is yielding results, and we are going to continue our efforts in the area as long as we deem fit to do so.”

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