SAN PEDRO, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Thurs. Nov. 8, 2018– At about 9:30 Sunday night, May 13, 2018, Lamont Edward Lipka, 49, an American citizen and the owner of Tropicana Bar and Grill, located on Coconut Drive on the southern end of San Pedro, was in his restaurant, sitting behind the counter, when an unknown gunman entered the restaurant and fired about 6 shots at him.
Lipka was struck in the head, neck, chest, abdomen and his arms, and died almost immediately. The killer then ran out of the restaurant into Coconut Drive and escaped.
Police have arrested Tracy Betancourt, 21, an unemployed San Pedro resident, and charged her with Lipka’s murder, and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shooting of Lipka. Police are searching for an accomplice in the crime, a resident of San Pedro who is known to them.
On Monday morning, November 5, Betancourt was taken to the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court, where she was arraigned for the charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. No plea was taken from her and she was remanded until January 30, 2019.
During the weekly police brief held today at the Raccoon Street Police Station, ASP Alejandro Cowo said that Lipka has no affiliation with Betancourt, and that Lipka had not reported that he was being threatened. The motive for the murder is still unknown, he said.
Cowo added that there was sufficient evidence to link Betancourt to the murder, which led to her arrest.
On October 17, ongoing investigations into the murder led to a pistol that was found in an abandoned lot in San Pedro. During the regular police press brief held on Thursday, October 25, ASP Alejandro Cowo, Commander of Crimes Investigation, had said that the pistol, along with expended shells found at the shooting scene in the Tropicana bar, was sent to the National Forensic Science Service for testing and matching, and at the conclusion of that testing, it was certified that the pistol was the gun used in Lipka’s murder.
Betancourt is well known to police. She was charged for drug trafficking in September 2016 after she was busted with 1,850 grams of compressed marijuana, which she was carrying in a box in a taxi on Barrier Reef Drive in San Pedro. She was charged with drug trafficking, and was taken to court and fined.
Also, in April, 2017, she was charged for keeping ammunition without a gun license after her house was searched and police found eight 9mm rounds. Present at the time of this search were Betancourt and her boyfriend, Paul Jex, and they were jointly charged with the offence.
However, the charge against her was withdrawn when Jex told the court that the rounds were his.