BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 13, 2020– The morning following the grand escape by 28 inmates from the Belize Central Prison, a violent riot erupted on the prison’s Tango 7 cellblock.
During the uproar, 26-year-old Stephen Jenkins was fatally wounded and died while undergoing treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. The uprising is believed to have been an act of resistance to the 21-day lockdown instituted by the prison to quell a COVID-19 outbreak inside the compound. The lockdown is set to continue despite the upheaval behind prison walls.
Virgilio Murillo, CEO of the Kolbe Foundation, which manages the prison, said that live ammunition was used to quell the violent riot, justifying its use by saying, “The way they were going on, violent, because if you see the guard, you would get the understanding of how vicious they were. They were literally out to kill.”
The prison guard to whom Murillo was referring (who was wounded during the uprising) sustained multiple head trauma injuries according to Murillo, but survived. Stephen Jenkins, on the other hand, was not so lucky.
He was shot along with another inmate during the riot. Jenkins was reportedly hit in the buttocks, a wound Murillo believed to be non-fatal.
Later that afternoon, however, news of his death surfaced. Jenkins’ father told local media that he was not informed of his son’s death by any official source from the Kolbe Foundation or the Police Department.
“They will not tell us everything. I heard it happened early in the morning. A friend of mine called me and told me about this. He came riding, and told me [that he came to give the news personally] because he did not want to tell me over the phone.
“By that time, they had put it out that he already died. It seems this thing happened a while and they had him there for about 2 hours or so just bleeding out. I think they wanted my son dead,” Ian Jenkins said.
The prison break, which took place the previous night, may have given the inmates at Tango 7 some momentum to stage the riot when guards went in to initiate and implement the 21-day lockdown.
CEO Murillo said that he had no intelligence that the lockdown would have prompted this tremendous backlash from the inmate population. He added that the lockdown plans would continue as scheduled, and that they will call on the assistance of the Police Department, if needs be.