Posted: Friday, May 14, 2021. 1:33 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: This week, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams has been giving his views on the suddenly resurgent gang activity in Belize City, which in the last week has seen at least one shooting every night and four deaths in five days.
The violence flared with the murder of 17-year-old Gerald Tillett Jr. last Thursday; the retaliatory double murders of 51-year-old Raymond Garcia and 56-year-old Wayne Peteau on Saturday off Church Street, and then on Monday, 33-year-old Tyrone Lemar Young was shot and killed in what appeared to be a failed drive-by shooting.
It all stems, said Williams to Channel 7 News, from a bubbling dispute between neighbouring gangs George Street and Taylor’s Alley. There had been a truce created last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but old hurts never die, and Tillett, son of infamous Gerald “Shiny” Tillett and nephew of Sheldon “Pinky” Tillett, both George Street dons, got a little too comfortable within the Taylor’s Alley base and was actually riding with the men who shot him, as caught on surveillance camera.
George Street hit back and while police, according to Williams, were quickly able to corral potential assassins and targets, they were unable to prevent the deaths of what he described as “a group of old persons who were inside a little building socializing playing dominoes.”
Police are on the trail of the prime suspect and are working to make an arrest, hopefully with the help of the surrounding community.
The Commissioner has not ruled out – as “a measure of last resort” – the return of a state of emergency, which would give police powers to round up potential criminals and jail them at Central Prison, Hattieville, for weeks to a few months. He told Channel 7 bluntly, “…the truth be told that is the only language some of them understand and sometime the state of emergency is a measure to save them from themselves, because had it not been for state of emergencies that we have had over the past years some of them may not have been here and so again it helps to save them from themselves and it helps to save the society from them.”
In the next month or so, the new Eastern Division Precinct One headquarters will be open at the corner of King and West Streets, at the old Sen Sen building. While there are political considerations at bay (the former headquarters on Euphrates Avenue is owned by now former Port Loyola area representative Anthony “Boots” Martinez), Williams told Channel 7 that police have out grown it and their longtime stomping ground about a block north at the corner of Dean and George Streets.
According to Williams, “…a precinct is a complete police station. We have CIB (Crime Investigation Branch), we have traffic, we have domestic violence, we have place for the SIMS officer, you have space for the OC (officer-in-charge), the deputy OC, the executive duty officer, so it must have adequate office spaces to be able to house whatever services that the police should offer to that community.”
Williams said the building will be leased from its proprietors at a similar rent price to their current Euphrates Avenue location and they are in charge of the renovations as well.
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