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José Matus murder: Police say victim was warned to stay away from Old Capital before fatal ambush

Jose Matus

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2024. 10:08 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: José Matus, 45, was a wanted man, and knew it. But according to Police Commissioner Chester Williams, he failed to heed several warnings by the Department to stay away from Belize City, and it would cost him his life on Friday, January 12.

“The truth is, for the past three times prior to his death, to every time he would come to the city, he would be pursued by those who may have wanted him dead. We had warned him on numerous occasions to try and stay away from the city. Seemingly, he still came in and those who were in pursuit of him managed to catch up with him and he was eventually killed,” Williams told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday.

The killing took place around 11:30 Friday morning near Madam Liz Crescent, where Matus had just dropped off two women. Several expended shells from nine millimeter and .223 rifles were retrieved from the scene.

Williams explained, “So far, police have located one van which we believe was the van used by those who perpetrated that criminal act and we are currently looking for one suspect at this time…The van is a rental. It was rented from an individual here in Belize City. We have the information of the person who rented the van and that’s the person we are seeking at this time.”

The Commissioner said that police believe the motive for Matus’ death may be linked to drugs. Without going into details, he said that since Friday, “…we have put in place certain things to avert any possible retaliation. That is holding so far and we continue to maintain our presence on the ground and do whatever else we need to do to try and prevent retaliations.”

He also said that the women who were injured along with Matus are likely collateral damage, as it is not believed that they had anything to do with the deadly attack on him: “Apparently, he just picked up one of the young ladies who was walking home and dropped her home, right where he was killed. We don’t believe that the young ladies had anything to do with his death, per se. He was just doing one of them a favor.”


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