Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum
transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast
are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers,
we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
At the end of last night's news, we told you about an armed robbery at A and R Store. Tonight details of that terror- filled event are known. Around 6:27 pm a man with a stocking over his face walked into A&R holding the security guard at gunpoint while his accomplice guarded the door. The man ordered everyone to lie on the floor. The store had already closed, but the employees and many of their young children were inside with them.
Everyone was in a panic, as the gunman went first to the supervisor's office and stole a plastic bag with over nine thousand dollars in cash. He then turned his attention to the workers, and even their children, snatches cell phones, rings and chains from them. Then, he ordered all of them to stand up and matched them up to the second floor and ordered the supervisor to open the safe - where he stole another three thousand in cash.
He then ordered all of them into a small room upstairs, locked them inside and both men escaped with $12,279 dollars in cash and $1,230.00 in valuables stolen form the employees and their children.
The GSU responded shortly after. And while we were told initially that they caught the robbers - namely two men we saw at the scene with shirts over their faces, we learned that those were suspects picked up in a nearby gang area - who, it turns out, had nothing to do with the robbery.
The end of August is back to school time, which is when A and R is at its busiest.
Tonight the Anti Drug Unit is proudly claiming the biggest bust of the drug Crystal Meth ever in Belize. "Meth" as it is called is short for methamphetamine - and it is a highly addictive drug widely used in the United States. In many cases, the drug itself or, more often, the chemical precursors used to make it are trafficked through Belize, Guatemala and Mexico to the US.
And last night, a stash with a value of more than 2 million US dollars was found in Orange Walk - and it happened, almost by chance. An unmarked anti drug unit vehicle was in the Louisiana area of Orange Walk Town when police observed a black Toyota Camry car driving erratically on the road, veering from one side to the other.
The ADU pursued the vehicle to get the driver to pull over. But instead he sped up and headed towards the Northern Highway on Liberty Avenue. But the Toyota Camry spun out of control and that's when two passengers tried to flee on foot. Reports say the police fired at them, which is when the pair was apprehended.
Inside the car police found a cooler with 18 parcels of Crystal Meth weighing 54.7 kilos, or 120 pounds. Belize police today said the value was 2 million US dollars, but internet documents we have seen from the Penssylvania Attorney General's Office says 120 pounds would have a street value of as much as 12 million US dollars.
The driver was identified as 49-year-old RUPERTO EULALIO REYES of an Orange Walk resident and the passenger was 52-year-old PASCUAL TERRERO PINEDA, a Cuban of Boca Del Rio, San Pedro Town.
Both have been arrested and are expected to be arraigned tomorrow.
There was a tragic hunting accident last night, which claimed the life of one man from Orange Walk Town.
Around 11:00 pm, brothers Celso Moreno, who is 63 and Gumercindo Mendoza who is 52 went hunting for deer in the Yo Creek area. They split up, and around midnight, Celso thought he saw something move. Thinking it was a deer, he fired one shot form his 12 gauge shotgun. But it turns out that it was his little brother who was shot to the hands, abdomen and side of the head with a shotgun blast. He died instantly, and Police have detained Celso Moreno pending investigation.
Today, the Ministries of Economic Development and Works held an annual review of their ongoing road safety project. But, in the current climate, it's hard to discuss road safety without talking about the road tragedy that one of the highest ranking law enforcement officials in the country caused last week Saturday. That, of course, is the fatal accident caused by the drunk driving Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mike Segura. Today we asked Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Santino Castillo about how Segura's alleged misdeeds are viewed by the executive. Here's what he had to say about Segura and the wider topic of drinking and driving:..
Hon. Santino Castillo "Quite honestly in Belize you are innocent until you are proven guilty. However if indeed ten gentleman as it shown so far by the blood test was drinking. It's a very tragic accident. It shows that alcohol and drinking do not mix. It shows that we should not drink and drive, we should have a designated driver if that's what we are going to do and I commend the government and I commend the police for acting decisively and swiftly on the matter. The example should always start at the top quite honestly, bit I was also made to understand, I did my own research on the case, that with the pressures that the police department faces Mr. Segura might not be the only one that drinks. I understand the pressures of the job in the police department has driven a few officers to drink. That doesn't mean however they have to drive."
Segura faces six charges. Those criminal charges include manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct, driving without due care and attention, negligent grievous harm, failing to alter the direction of his vehicle to give way to the taxi he ran into, and driving a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit.
He is out on bail of $6,000 dollars and he must reappear in Benque Magistrate's Court on October 9.
Dale Tillett Was only 19 when he was fatally wounded by a gunshot at the Palm Island nightclub on New Year's Eve 2011. Three and a half years later, the man accused of firing the gun that killed the fourth former, walked out of court a free man. The outcome of the trial without jury has left Tillett's family deeply bruised by what they feel is justice denied. But, in the aftermath of the July verdict, they didn't have any public eruption of outrage - they grieved privately that their son and brother would not get the justice they believe he deserved. Yesterday, though, after weeks of quiet agony, Dale's mother spoke for the first time. Monica Bodden has her story:
Pamela Ferguson - Mother of Dale Tillett "When I got that call that my son got shot I was at work and I felt frustrated, I didn't know what to do and I just start to pray and cry."
Monica Bodden reporting
Pamela Ferguson remembers the early morning phone call that she received on New Year's Eve 2011.
She was at work, when they had informed her that her oldest child - 19 year old Dale Tillett- was shot to the head inside the compound of the then popular Palm Island nightclub.
Since the incident almost 3 years ago, it is her first time sitting down in an interview to talk about her son's murder.
Pamela Ferguson- Mother of Dale Tillett "It's painful, no justice is in Belize especially if you don't have any money. I am a single mother and I really want to see justice because life is hard and for them to take away your baby - that's my first child. I was in 4th form when I got pregnant with my child and I know that my son would have been a good role model for the rest of my children. It hurts me bad and up to today I still cry. I love my son Dale Tillett."
FILE: JANUARY 3, 2012 Jules Vasquez reporting
The very violent New Year's Eve started here at Palm Island at 4:00 am - when we are told there was a fistfight - which led to gunplay. 32 year old Renan Briceno Jr. - who was reportedly looking out for one of his friends who had been beaten - allegedly fired his weapon - a licensed 9 millimeter pistol, at an approaching crowd and shot 19 year old Dale Tillett, a fourth former of #87 George Street to the head.
As this amateur cell phone video shows at the time of the incident - after being shot, Dale fell to the ground unconscious and bystanders carted him into the backseat of a Taxi.
He held on to life for four and a half days on a ventilator machine, before he succumbed to his injuries.
The following day 32 year old Renan Briceno Jr - the accused- was charged with his murder. It was a relief for this grieving mother and a step closer to getting justice for her dead son.
Monica Bodden "Do you know what really went on that night?"
Pamela Ferguson- Mother of Dale Tillett "Ma'am I don't have any idea because like I said I wasn't there, but Briceno gun was hot and lots of evidence was there, so I don't see how he just walk like that - like a free man. Those judges are not thinking for poor people."
Pamela may never know what happened that morning her son was shot outside of the Palm Island nightclub in front of many eyewitnesses.
On July 16th, after serving 2 and a half years on remand, Renan Briceno, nephew of Orange Walk Central Area Rep, John Briceno, walked out of the courtroom a free man - after Justice Troadio Gonzalez found him not guilty in a trial without jury.
Meanwhile a devastated Pamela Ferguson and her young son left the courthouse in tears, bitterly dissatisfied at the outcome.
Monica Bodden "Take us back to the court room when the verdict was read not guilty?"
Pamela Ferguson - Mother of Dale Tillett "Whoa, it's like the world was crumbling on me. I didn't know where to turn to. It's painful and all I could have done was just burst out of crying and thanks to my second son Anthony Winston Ferguson - he was right there like a husband, a son to me. It was painful bad, but I really wanted justice. Like I say "money talk, bullshit walks." If I had money it would have been a battle, but just because we are black and poor and the Bricenos they have money - they got away."
Pamela still clings to the memories she has of her son to get her through her days. Today she and I took a walk to his graveside - this is something she does on a regular basis.
Pamela Ferguson - Mother of Dale Tillett "My son already did all his CXCs - I didn't even courage to go to the graduation when they invited us. That was just going to bring me more frustration."
Monica Bodden "There are times when you still think about him, you remember any good memories of Dale?"
Pamela Ferguson - Mother of Dale Tillett "Good memories. Dale was a loving son. He use to always tell me 'take care of Britney,' he loved his little sister. He said 'mommy, do two things for me; give her her tea in the morning and give her her tea in the night' and he will prepare her meal in the afternoon and he did it. He was a father to Britney. My oldest child was a father to Britney. Many days I would sit down and cry and some days I go to the grave. I could remember a year we have a birthday party in the burying ground. It's hard, very hard. Up to today I still moan and I cry."
In a system where justice seldom prevails for the less fortunate, Pamela says she is still hanging on to the hope that maybe something might change and get her the justice she and her family deserves.
Monica Bodden "Do you think that you are going to get justice some day for you son?"
Pamela Ferguson - Mother of Dale Tillett "I would hope so because that's not a dog that they killed, that's a human being, a son, a brother, a family member, friend and everything in one. Not even the dogs are getting killed on the streets like that."
The DPP's office is expected to appeal the outcome of that trial.
In the past few weeks on the news, we've been hearing a lot about the General Legal Council, mostly in reference to the attorney Arthur Saldivar, who we are told has more than a few complaints filed against him with that body.
If you don't know what the General Legal Council is, that's not surprising because that body, which should review complaints against attorney's and hand out discipline for it, has a conviction rate very close to zero% and is mostly nonfunctional.
Try to find out who's to blame for the woeful state of affairs, and you'd probably end up in court - because both the attorney general and the bar association blame each other. But when those big elephants fight, it's only the grass that gets trampled and, in this case, the grass is represented by those regular folks who pay lawyers money and don't get anything in return - not even a court appearance.
Today the attorney general told us about his plan to fix it:..
Hon. Wilfred "Sedi" Elrington, Attorney General "I don't think it was functioning effectively at all and that's for different reasons. I got the impression they were very selective in who they wanted to go against and the dilatory in terms of how they proceeded depending on who they were dealing with. Very unsatisfactory state of affairs and I thought that it was necessary that an end be put to that. I want to emphasize the point that over the last 6 years I was not in the picture because I was more out of the country than in, so that the other persons who are responsible for carrying on the affairs of the general legal council ought to have done that. But that was not done in the manner on which it ought to have been done and to my mind it was doing more injustice than justice and It is for that reason that I had ordered that it be halted certainly while I am in country since I am responsible until we can in fact make more efficient, make it stronger, make it work in accordance with the law. I have now been in country for the entire month of August and so it is much more convenient now for us to convene on anything and I've given instructions for that to be done. So that's going to be done very shortly."
"I am happy to tell you that in fact we will be taking legislation to the national assembly as early as September to in fact with a view to strengthening the general legal council and in that process the role of the attorney general is going to be seriously reduced and the chief justice is going to take a much more prominent role."
The president of the bar EAMON COURTENAY is out of the country so we could not get his comments.
Since Monday evening, the community of Hopkins has been mourning the loss of one of its own after 47 year-old Josephine Augustine was killed, and her husband, 71 year-old Dudley Augustine was badly beaten by 2 men who broke into their home.
Both are career educators, and so the tragedy has upset the quiet community of Hopkins Village. The residents held a demonstration this afternoon to alert the nation to their outrage, and 7News was there.
Daniel Ortiz reports:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Families, friends and supporters of the Augustine Couple joined the rest of the Hopkins Community for a small demonstration in their honor. All 230 persons gathered in one location, and then, they moved to the couple's home, where they had been attacked on Monday evening. There, they said a prayer for Dudley, and held vigil for Josephine.
They then marched around the village, mourning in solidarity. Hopkins is currently in pain for the ordeal that was visited on the couple.
John Rodriguez - Demonstration Participant "I was second on the scene and I saw him in blood. I was the one who assist in removing him his place of abode to seek medical attention."
Daniel Ortiz "What were some of the things on the scene which to you made you speechless?"
John Rodriguez - Demonstration Participant "Gruesome. As an ex-police I have seen such scene, but not as gruesome as that one."
Yvette Montes - Demonstration Participant "Its hurts me because she and I was close. Like how her husband was sick, she had ask me to give him a little therapy every now and again, so I'm at their house 3 times a week. So we got so close and we became friends. She shared a lot of stuff with me and so its heart wrenching to see that happen. When I heard it I couldn't sleep."
Shanna Taylor - Demonstration Participant "Mr. Dudley Augustine was actually a former co-worker of ours. He was a part time teacher at Ecumenical Junior College, so for that reason we felt that we had to be out here."
Florence Cayetano - Demonstration Participant "How could that have happened? These are peaceful people, these are people who we need in our society to continue to build our society."
Juliet Williams - Demonstration Participant "I am the principal of the school where Miss Josephine worked and I knew her husband. I got to meet them as a couple. This is sickening, its heart wrenching that somebody would do something like this to somebody humble, quite as Josephine and Mr. Augustine. We are at a loss for words why somebody would do something like that."
Howard Melendrez - Demonstration Participant "Humble persons and it's very sad that innocent people in our country, narrowing down to Hopkins. Who knows, narrowing down to Dangriga, PG or somewhere that it will happen next. We are hoping that this will not be the case."
Felina Casimiro - Demonstration Participant "They've been my neighbor for like over 5 years. They are a very nice couple, really nice."
The group had only good things to say about these career educators, and the overwhelming reaction to the violence they experienced in this seaside village was shock and disbelief.
Yvette Montes - Demonstration Participant "I have never seen something like this in Hopkins yet. And knowing that these people are loving people, they are very friendly, they are always at other people funeral and church and they are always present, so they are very nice people. They didn't deserve something like that."
Shanna Taylor - Demonstration Participant "I was shocked especially in Hopkins."
Florence Cayetano - Demonstration Participant "I had to ask 3 times and I had to ask 3 different sources to confirm it."
Juliet Williams - Demonstration Participant "Disbelief and hoping that it wasn't true. I had to get quite a few texts and calls before I could actually believe something like that happen to her in such a peaceful place."
Elizabeth Lathrop - Demonstration Participant "Absolutely shocked. I still can't believe it. I was just coming home from work going into the crowd and learn of the horrible tragedy."
Howard Melendrez - Demonstration Participant "In truth it was a shock, it's like electricity passing through. In fact I was on my way from church in Dangriga, from a regular mass when I got the news and since I was driving I had to park to the side and I ask my informant please check and confirm this report before you get back to me and when she confirmed it was hard, very hard."
Shanna Taylor - Demonstration Participant "This is a piece of paradise, so for something like that to happen here makes you wonder, are you really safe?"
Elizabeth Lathrop - Demonstration Participant "Living in Hopkins we have the privilege of feeling safe and living with our doors open and not have to worry about a lot of these types of tragedies and so it's just shocking to find it happen right here in our community for what we don't know. It seems absolutely useless."
Daniel Ortiz "Being so close their home and seeing that they were attacked in the comfort and safety where it is believe that you are most secure. Does that affect you having seen this entire situation unfold?"
Elizabeth Lathrop - Demonstration Participant "Most definitely, we lock up our house earlier. As evening passed we shut the windows and doors. We don't have that same comfort."
Today, the Belize National Teachers Union released a statement sending their condolences and sympathy to the families of the Augustine Couple, noting their significant contributions to education in the South.
The BNTU also called on the Political Directorate make an intervention to bring down the crime rate around the country.
Last night's robbery at A&R in Belize City happened 5 hours after a couple was held up and robbed by armed thieves in San Ignacio.
57 year-old Ruben Diaz and were at their business place at around 1 p.m. when 5 Hispanic men, all armed, barged in and robbed them at gunpoint of $1,000 cash, two power saws, a converter and an assortment of food. For good measure, the men stole 3 of the surveillance cameras a 2 solar panels.
Police are investigating, and they believe that the men are Guatemalans.
Last night, we showed you the seizures made by the Gang Suppression Unit during operations designed to target known drug peddlers in the City. Well, the GSU reported today, they found drugs near a known associate of the South Side Gangsters, known as SSG.
At around 6 yesterday evening, officers from the GSU searched members from the SSG gang on Fabers Road. The officers then searched the immediate area where these gang members were congregated, and they found a transparent plastic bag which had several smaller parcels of marijuana. It was hidden inside an empty coconut husk.
The officers continued looking around and ended up finding a black plastic bag, which contained 4 smaller bags. Inside these bags contained high grade marijuana, known as "Hydro". The total seizure amounted to 519 grams - or 18.3 ounces - of marijuana, and because none of the drugs could be connected to anyone present, they were deposited as found property.
GSU does believe, however, that they belong to a high ranking member of the SSG, who is also a drug peddler.
It seems that this year we've reported on an extraordinarily high number of terrible traffic fatalities - but that may be just what would be called the proximity effect: the numbers seem greater because they are happening in the here and now. Actually, the Ministry of Works says the number of traffic fatalities is down. Still, we'd like to see the police figures, but, since those don't come around any more, we'll take the Ministry at its word.
Today they held the annual review of the Road Safety project and Courtney Weatherburne has the story of a measured success:..
The Road Safety Project has a budget of US$8 million.
Jason "Soup" Williams, the boss of the Supal Street Blood, was the main suspect in the gang-related shooting of 27 year old Andrew Tate and 23 year old Kariq Tzul, which happened on February of this year. 23 year-old Tariq Cadle passed away from a separate shooting, and it is believed that both men were targeted in retaliation for his murder. Police investigation was supposed to link Williams to it. He was detained shortly after, and he was accused of shooting at officers who tried to detain him near the scene of the triple shooting. Well, tonight, he's free and clear of all charges related to that incident.
He stood trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on 2 counts of aggravated assault, and 1 count of discharging a firearm in public. The officers he supposedly shot at on that night were Constables Jason Augustine and Elvin Nah. They testified in court that the man who shot at them near the crime scene looked like Williams. Because they couldn't give a clear and positive identification of Soup Williams as the gunman who fired at them, the charges couldn't stand up to the scrutiny of the trial. Chief Magistrate Smith dismissed them and set Williams free.
It's an important development because these men placed Williams at the scene of the double shooting. They believed that Williams was the gunman who shot both men. Because of the failure in prosecution of that case, there is currently no link between Williams and that shooting.
There's a new art show up on the walls at the Institute of Mexico in Belize City. The exhibition features the works of 6 Mexican artists who are using their talents to capture human emotion on canvas:..
The exhibition was inaugurated on Thursday August 12th and will remain open until September 19th.
Belize has the presidency of SICA until December and a part of that means holding the presidency of C-CAD, the Central American Commission on the Environment, and Opresca - the Central American commission on fisheries.
But, rather than just place holding the Ministry of Fisheries Forestry and Sustainable Development is setting a bold agenda of reform for the institution. We found out more at the ministerial meeting for the C-Cad Secretariat today:..
Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, Sust. Dev. "Specifically look at reforming CCAD, revisiting the governance structure and the decision making framework because CCAD has had many ups and downs and after participating for two and a half years, it is my opinion that it's the government structure that really needs to revisited and strengthened."
Adele Catzim, CEO - Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, Sust. Dev. "We see this as a major opportunity for Belize because Belize is advance in its negotiations of climate change on a regional level, but in the Caribbean region not in the Central American region and so since we have the presidency what we are trying to do is to bring the lessons learnt, the positions and the messages from Caricom countries and OAS into the SICA countries."
Emilio Sempris, Vice Minister - Panama "Regarding commonalities; celery, rice is a commonality in climate change that we address. In Panama we are expanding our canal so we are keeping alive all the maritime dynamics and the coastal zone dynamics."
Adele Catzim, CEO - Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, Sust. Dev. "So while the individual countries as is the case with SICA have their own individual situations that they have to deal with, what we are here to do is look at points in common; what it is that we are all addressing? What we are all facing that is related to the natural environment that present opportunities for us to work together."
There's a parallel meeting of climate change negotiators for Central America also happening at the Radisson.
Last week we told you about BTL's Annual Scholarship Ceremony. Well, Courts held theirs this morning at the Radisson. Over 50 students applied but only 10 were fortunate to be rewarded the 4 year scholarship. Covenca Rodriguez Jones, senior marketing officer discussed the scholarship program while the recipients expressed how grateful they are for the scholarship.
Covenca Rodriguez James, COURTS Senior Marketing Officer "Courts has been doing this from the inception, probably two years after 1997, so it's over 200 persons that have been awarded scholarships. However we been doing the ceremony on a larger scale for the past 5-6 years and from then could recall 25 recently is on the scholarship."
Chandiana Samuels, scholarship recipient "I am from Belize and the scholarship will help me make my dreams come true because I want to be lawyer."
Glendi Morales, scholarship recipient "I am from Orange Walk Town and I am happy to win this scholarship and I feel grateful. I am ready to go to school and this is going to help me because I want a better future for me."
The scholarship covers the cost of fees, tuition and books.