Over the weekend sixteen-year-old Shamar Nicholas was fatally shot by a police officer in Belize City. Investigators say that the Belize City teen had just committed a murder. His target was twenty-four-year-old Matthew Gutierrez, who was walking on Kraal Road on Sunday when he came under gunfire. His shooter then rode off but came across police officers stationed on Rivero Street and a brief shootout unfold. Nicholas attempted to escape but was shot and he died on Waight Street. Nicholas is one of several Belize City young men who have fallen into the grasp of gangs with no way out. They do the bidding for gang leaders and this is something that Commissioner of Police Chester Williams recognizes.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “We do have two murders over the weekend and one fatal shooting involving police and yes we all know the demographics of Belize City is on that is extremely challenging to police due to the prevalence of gangs and gang rivalries in the different neighborhoods and the police department I must say for the past couple of months has done a lot to try and minimize those occurrences and if the media wants to be honest and truthful they can go into their own records and they’re going to see that these crimes are not as prevalent as they once were but yes one murder is one murder too much. Every life lost leaves families grieving, leaves children without a parent and so it goes to show that our society on a whole needs to really and truly look at ourselves to see what is it that we are now doing that we should be doing or what it is that we’re doing that we can do more of. I surely believe that the narrative as it relates to young persons, minors needs to change. I have long said that while it is good to say to minors or to children that they have certain rights it must equally be important for us to say to them that with these rights come certain responsibilities. And I also believe that whenever a minor commits an offence or commits a crime we need to make it known to that minor that he or she commits a crime or an offence and it is only by so doing that we will be able to see a shift in the behavior of our young people. Yes there are some people who have this mentality that because these persons are killed then that they are incapable of committing a crime and it is these same children who are out there for the most part committing the most heinous of crimes. They are captured by the gang elements and they are used as vehicle to go and commit crime, to execute the big man crimes because the big man is fearful of doing it himself and so they’ll use the young persons to do it.”
When fourteen-year old Laddie Gillet was shot and killed by a police officer, many NGOs and groups came out, condemning the act and calling for justice. Com Pol Chester Williams says that more needs to be done to save at risk youth.
Chester Williams Commissioner of Police: “I do support the different organizations that rallies for children as I too rally for children but I also believe that when something goes wrong it must equally come out and let the children know that what is taking place is wrong and it needs to change. It cannot be that we continue to see praises and glory where children are concerned when they are the same ones involved in taking our lives or the lives of loved ones and so that is an area that I’d like to see the narrative change and equally I would also like to see a system where more is done for young persons, for children. I know that our minister just a week ago launched the scholarships for forty underprivileged children from Belize City and again you need to see more of this. It cannot be just that the police or the government, we have to see input from the private sector to assist in this endeavor because at the end of the day fighting crime is everybody’s business and some of us cannot behave as if it cannot come to our door, it can come to anybody’s doors and so we have to work together to see how we can work with young persons because it’s the only way we can break the cycle. It’s a cycle that we’re seeing and if it is that we don’t ‘get a hold of the twelve to sixteen-year-olds now in the next two to three years they’re going to be the problem makers.”