Workers at the Prolific Minds and Hearts car wash on Albert Street in Belize City came under gunfire shortly after they opened for business this morning. According to reports the men were seated at the back of the establishment when they noticed a man dressed in a grey shirt and blue pants walking towards them. The gunman opened fire at the group before jumping on the back of a motorcycle and making good his escape in the direction of Racecourse Street. While no one was injured in the shooting, it is yet another blow to the business security as only a few weeks ago a man who visited the establishment was targeted and killed at the same location. These past two incidents have brought on concerns as the workers at the carwash are reformed gang members who were provided with the business opportunity under the Empowering Communities to Empower Themselves (ECTEC) initiative. The ECTEC program is a partnership with the Love Foundation, the US Embassy, and the Kolbe Foundation. According to the Managing Director of the Love Foundation, Deborah Sewell the incident may be an act of provocation on the men.
Deborah Seawell, Managing Director, Love Foundation: “Well Vejea, I don’t really know much about what led to the attack as you say. I do know that this morning, there were some gunshots fired directly at the hub so we have every reason to believe that it was, the Hub was being targeted by these gunmen. You know, we have seen several incidences of provocation at the hubs. If you recall over, a little bit over a year ago there was something similar at the hub that was opened in the St. Martin’s area. In that incident, one person was killed and several people were injured. Fortunately, this time no one was injured but we do believe that this is an issue of provocation. We know that there has been old beef, old rivalry and sometimes people are very upset when they see people moving on and you know, that was the case with the St. Martin’s Hub and I believe that it’s probably the same case with this hub. So you know, we just, as far as The Love Foundation is concerned, we understand that when getting involved with these types of programmes that all these guys had a past. They have a past and sometimes that past will come back to haunt them. It’s something that we cannot overlook but it’s also something that if we’re going to make changes, we have to be brave enough to say that we, we’re going to stand beside them and we’re going to continue to see how we can make this change. Now, I can tell you that the Love Foundation is standing behind these hubs. We stand beside the hubs. We will continue to support them and we will continue to support anyone who wants to leave that lifestyle but we will also support the police in doing their job as well and we have instructed these guys. The police have to do their job so when the police come, just comply. Go along with what they need to do. We’ve seen cases of mistreatment. You know, I’m not here to judge anybody but I’m just saying, what we have instructed these guys to do is whenever these incidents happen, there’s a certain procedure that the police has to go through and we just ask them to comply with the police. So we support what the police is doing. We comply. We ask to comply with them taking the guys for questioning. We know that is a part of their procedure but at the same time, we also want to say to those who are involved in these incidents of provocation that we will do everything in our power to work with the police to ensure that, you know, they’re tracked down.”
Sewell added that despite the setbacks caused by these incidents, the men at the hub will continue to provide meaningful changes in their communities. She added that these incidents will not hinder them as the Love Foundation will remain a partner in helping to reform the lives of ex-gang members who want to make a change in their lives.