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Home Headline Pre-dawn home invaders terrorize healthcare professionals

Pre-dawn home invaders terrorize healthcare professionals

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 13, 2021– Just before 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 12, a medical doctor who is recovering from a stroke, Dr. Maria Reyes, 53, and Nurse Melinda Guerra, who formerly was the Director of the Central Health Region, had a horrifying experience when they found that four masked men were inside their Belize City home on Chancellor Avenue in West Landivar, and were demanding money — large amounts of it.

Nurse Guerra, who spoke to local media off-camera, said that she first heard strange noises sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., and although she heard those noises three times during her slumber, she disregarded it and went back to sleep. It was not until a little before 5:00 a.m. that she heard the screams of her associate, Dr. Reyes, and learned that the noises she had heard were from the prying open of a burglar bar enclosing a window on the lower flat of the residence by masked men who had entered the house.

She told local reporters that the men, who were dressed in black and camouflage clothing with hats, were hovering over Dr. Reyes. “It was around quarter to 5:00 when I heard Dr. Reyes shouting and then I rushed to where she was and that’s when I saw four men, you know over her.They were on top of her, yes, so then I went like, ‘Oh my God.’ I said, ‘Please don’t hurt Dr. Reyes, she’s a doctor, she’s just recovering from a stroke’, and so actually when they heard that, one of them helped her back to the bed and then one of them commanded me or asked me, just lie down on the bed too,” she recounted.

She said that the men demanded money and then began ransacking the house, as if they were looking for something specific, and when they were presumably not able to find what they were looking for, they forcibly took hold of Guerra and ordered her to find money.

Nurse Guerra, who noted that one of the men seemed to be in charge and had a calm temperament, said that she was told to open the study, and she got a key and complied. She then recalled that there was a box in the study which contained money that was being held by the doctor, and she then handed over the box to them. According to police reports, there was reportedly almost $13,000 US inside it. The funds were supposed to be used by Reyes to cover the costs of a retirement trip to the Holy City (the Vatican in Rome), according to local reports.

It seems, however, that the men had been aiming to take with them loot of much higher value. According to Guerra, when she handed over the box, another of the robbers, who was more hostile than the robber who was in charge, “still wasn’t satisfied with that”, and according to Guerra, “he was pressuring the person…. that they have to do something.”

What possibly deescalated the situation, according to Guerra, was the discovery of an official Covid-19 stamp that Guerra had received from her supervisor, which convinced the men that she was indeed a nurse. Three of the robbers then left the room, while one remained. That robber proceeded to place duct tape on the women’s legs, hands and mouths.

They would later leave the premises in Dr. Reyes’ vehicle, a late-model Toyota Hilux worth about $100,000 BZ dollars, along with the USD $13,000 that was in the box, as well as an assortment of gold jewelry and a piggy bank filled with 1-dollar coins.

The Police Department, which was contacted a little after 6:00 that morning, has since arrested four persons in connection with this aggravated burglary. The first suspect was found on Tuesday afternoon at his home, and when that house was searched, police found some of the items that were reportedly stolen during the home invasion, as well as clothing similar to what Guerra said the armed robbers had worn at the time of the incident. The three other men were found later that night at one of the suspect’s home, again with the clothing believed to have been worn by the armed men during the burglary.

According to Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, it is believed that the Toyota Hilux has already been taken across the border to Guatemala, where stolen Hilux vehicles have often been transported over the last few years for sale.

“One of the burglars took us to a location where he said that they had hidden the Hilux before it would have gone over to Guatemala for sale. But when we got to the location, only the tracks were seen, and apparently the vehicle had already been taken over to Guatemala, and so we are liaising with our Guatemalan counterparts to see what can be done from that side to locate and return the vehicle to Belize.” Commissioner Williams explained.

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