Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District, Sat. Apr. 24, 2021– Gun violence has become an issue of increasing concern in Punta Gorda Town. In a span of 3 days, two men were murdered less than a mile away from each other.
The first of the two murders left the Wade family mourning the loss of their beloved Kevonn Wade, who was fatally shot at his home around 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Kevonn was pronounced dead on arrival at the Punta Gorda Hospital some 25 minutes later.
According to reports, the car-wash owner and father of 9 was sitting outside his home when a masked person dressed in black approached and fired approximately five shots at Wade, which wounded him in the right side of his chest and on his chin.
Wade was a witness of the shooting of Mario Vernon III, the grandson of the late “Miss Leelah Vernon”, who was shot and killed by a police officer who claims Vernon was allegedly carrying a gun. In an earlier video dating back to 2018, Wade made the claim that his being a bystander in the police shooting, led to his victimization and caused him to be in fear for his life, due to threats made against him by the police.
Wade could be heard in the video screaming, “See him there [directing the camera to a police officer], talking about he will kill me. If I die, you will get charged. You promise you will kill me. Say it again. Because I am a witness to Mario, these officers are chancing me. They want to protect me because I am a witness — he wants to kill me because I am a witness. Leave me alone, officer. It was I who told the officer that Mario was back there. If I had known that officer was going to kill Mario, I wouldn’t have told him where he was. Every time he meets me he talks about how he wants to kill me — no, man.”
This police officer, however, was not the gunman who caused Wade’s death. Following a police investigation and survey of the area, the police apprehended a 16-year-old minor who is a Toledo resident, who later confessed to the crime of killing Wade.
Two days following the death of 37-year-old Kevonn Wade, the police responded to yet another gunshot incident near the “Punta Gorda Dollar Sign”. Upon arrival at the site at the junction of Front Street and Main Middle Street, the officers found a white Toyota Camry with 49-year-old Dwayne Myers behind the steering wheel, begging for help.
A police investigation revealed that around 8:05 p.m. that day, Myers was heading towards downtown Punta Gorda, but halted at a bus stop near the dollar sign. Myers remained in the car and was later approached from behind by two male persons on a motorcycle who fired several shots that caused the wounds which would lead to his death.
Myers was rushed to the Punta Gorda Hospital, but subsequently succumbed to his injuries following treatment. The police are searching for two suspects in the shooting of Dwayne Myers.
When asked to comment on the situation, the Commissioner of Police described the incident as the result of gang rivalry in Punta Gorda. Commissioner Chester Williams briefed his Commanders on a proposed course of action, to address this brewing situation in the south. Commissioner Williams says he will visit Punta Gorda and have discussions with relevant stakeholders, as well as talk with the citizenry to devise a long-term proposal to restore Punta Gorda to the tranquil haven it once was.
Following the double murders, Commissioner Williams, in a media interview said, “May I say that as a police department, we owe it to the people of Punta Gorda to ensure that we provide the level of citizen security that is so rightly deserved.” The Commissioner warned that there may be immediate changes in the policing strategy in the Punta Gorda area to address the rise in crime.
Guided by the Plan Belize agenda, Commissioner Williams said that the department will be implementing community-oriented policing to a greater extent. Williams noted, however, that this does not mean that the police will be tolerant of criminals. In his interview, Williams said, “I can assure you that [criminals] are going to feel the wrath of the police,” even though he pledged as well that the department will foster an atmosphere of trust between the Police Department and the larger community,
“This community-oriented policing is essential,” said the Commissioner, who noted the rise in crimes committed by minors. “Minors have developed a criminal propensity from a much earlier age,” he said.