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Murders doubled in January as year begins with crime spike

Posted: Saturday, February 12, 2022. 11:19 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize Crime Observatory (BCO) has confirmed a doubling of murders countrywide in January of 2022, with thirteen reported compared to six for 2021.

However, the murders were concentrated primarily in the Belize (10) and Stann Creek (3) Districts, respectively.

Nonetheless, it represents only the third time since 2009 that there have been more than a dozen murders in January. It’s also the highest murder count in January since 2018, which had 15 murders.

The killing began only three days into the new year with the executions of 31-year-old Raymond Dominguez and 21-year-old Justin Milligan. The two friends were inside Dominguez’s house playing video games when a gunman burst in and opened fire. And like most murder victims, the family didn’t have any idea why.

Two nights later, a minor was gunned down in Dangriga Town. 15-year-old Joshua Flores was reportedly walking with people he had considered his friends, when one of them pulled out a firearm and shot him.

On January 9, 24-year-old Daniel Lopez was stalked while walking home from the police station after a 48-hour detention. He was fatally shot before he even made it inside his yard. And on January 11th, a son committed patricide when he allegedly chopped his abusive father, who had reportedly just beaten his mother and was about to choke his younger brother. The incident was first regarded as a death investigation, but police would later charge 23-year-old Olvin Rivas for the murder of his father 52-year-old Amaya Salvador Rivas.

Two days afterwards, 25-year-old Dorian Tzac and his 14-year-old neighbor were both shot while inside Tzac’s room, followed by a 6-day reprieve before the life of 35-year-old Septimus Richie was taken while he was inside his home – the bullet finding its mark through an opened window.

Those closest to the next murder victim, 26-year-old Michael Lambey, felt that it was his own friend that caused him to be fatally shot at the store where he was always hanging out.

But perhaps the most shocking murder of the month was that of 33-year-old Winston “Tanga” James. The gang figure turned internet celebrity was gunned down in the middle of the day as he left his lawyer’s office on January 21. He was with his girlfriend, Marybeth Wade, who said that, even with his dying breath, he saved her life.

Hours later, two more men were also fatally shot. The first was 36-year-old Leslie “Dimes” Gillett. Gillett was at his store in Burrell Boom, which had been the scene of a double murder two months prior – but this time the gunman got him. And in Belize City hours later, 33-year-old Virgil Coburn was killed while standing in a friend’s yard. He had been waiting on food to be delivered and, by all accounts, he was just an employee at the Ministry of Health who troubled no one.

One week later, 39-year-old Jose David Funes Lopez was also gunned down on a London Bridge in the Holy Emmanuel area. Not even five years ago, his own wife had been viciously chopped to death by her brother, and with no stable home and few family members, police are having a hard time finding a motive for Funes’ killer. The last was 32-year-old Ernest Staine who was sitting at Gee Bar in Seine Bight when a gunman came for him.

A total of 20 shooting incidents were reported in the month, up one from last year.

In all 68 major crimes were reported, ten more than last year, including four rapes, two incidents of unlawful sexual intercourse, thirty-five burglaries, nine robberies, and five thefts.

There have been 18 total arrests for major crimes committed in January but only three were for murder.

Police also reported more successful seizures of processed cannabis and firearms and ammunition.

For 2021, there were slightly fewer major crimes overall, 883 compared to 888 in 2020.


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