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Murders up 40 percent compared to 2023 at end of first quarter; Commissioner of Police discusses what’s changed

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2024. 9:59 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: At least eleven murders were reported in March following a fairly quiet January and February, and with five murders already reported so far in April, a total of 31 have been logged so far for 2023 compared to 22 in the same period last year.

Businessman Shane Baizar was reported missing only to be found in a vat near his house; police caught up with his alleged killer Cruz Castillo in Cayo and shot him dead. American mother Breeann Kyle was found murdered in Libertad, with her partner allegedly hanging himself in the Corozal Town police station cell block. Meanwhile, Steven Jorgensen was shot dead in a family dispute.

Over the National Heroes and Benefactors Day holiday weekend, there was a murder-suicide involving City Administrator Stephanie Lindo and husband Wallace Garbutt. In Belmopan the following Monday, Haitian-American Robert Joseph allegedly stormed the Belmopan Market and shot a mother and child dead, while the following weekend saw the killing of Liston Williams in Belize City and the deadly chase along the Philip Goldson Highway that led to the death of Damion Baptist.

The series of murders that would trigger a State of Emergency began with the killing of reformed gangster Elwin ‘Bobo’ Lewis on Antelope Street, followed by Nigel Williams, a taxi driver, being targeted in the King’s Park area for alleged gang ties and the shooting of police officer Dylan Anthony on the Roaring Creek Bridge.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police, reiterated on Thursday that, “[The] majority of the killings we are having now is outside the police preventative reach… From a policing standpoint, we continue to do what we can to prevent those murders that we can prevent. We don’t know who is sleeping with whose woman. We don’t know what friends are thinking when they go out and drink and one gets drunk and decides to kill the other. We do not know when a man and a woman have an issue inside a house and one kills the other like we saw in Corozal. These are things we do not know. So we cannot prevent those happening, but those that are within the realm of the police’s prevention. We are doing what we can to prevent them.”

Previously, the Commissioner noted that rural Belize District is becoming an area of concern: “Nine of the murders in the eastern division occurred in rural Belize. So, we have to find a way that we will be able to address these types of crime. But when we also look at the motive behind these murders, many of them were social settings or domestic settings, but the gang-related murders were still down tremendously and we want to make sure that going further into the year we can keep it down. When you look at the overall crime outlook, major crime is down by 22 percent compared to last year. So as much as last year was a good year, we are still seeing that major crime is down for this year and we want to make sure we continue that trend for the rest of the year.”

 

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