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Cops Foil robbery of AnR

Two men have been charged for robbing a store on Saturday afternoon in Belize City.  Joseph Castillo and Keyon Budna were trapped inside A & R Store on Saturday, May 25 when they entered the establishment on the Philip Goldson Highway and carried out a robbery.  Police were alerted of the robbery in progress and within minutes, six police mobiles responded and surrounded the store, blocking incoming and outgoing traffic on the highway.  Investigators on the case, reported more in yesterday’s press brief.

Jose Sanchez – Reporter: “A & R Store in Belize City was being robbed very early on Saturday morning. The police responded almost immediately at 9:30 am as officers were patrolling the area. They were shot at immediately by assailants while customers were inside the store.”

A.S.P. Alejandro Cowo – Head C.I.B., Belize City: “Upon police entering the entrance of A & R they were greeted by male persons firing shots at them. As a result police who were in the area asked for assistance and other police mobiles arrived at the scene. They were able to manage the situation, thereafter the two male persons handed themselves over to police. What police has gathered so far is that the two male persons entered the shop, held the cashier at gunpoint and demanded the cashier to hand over money. It was about $1500 that was handed over to the male person and while exiting the entrance of the shopping center that is when they met the police. The police were almost about to enter the establishment and that is where the firing began. Police inside of the building found a 9mm pistol loaded with one live round of ammunition. We understand that the security guard that was in front of the main entrance was held up as a shield for the suspects that were behind him. The police have been trained several times in dealing with this type of incident. Recently, there was special training for some of the special units at the academy where they would teach them how to clear buildings and how to handle the situation here. That is what was put in place exactly on Saturday.”

Jose Sanchez – Reporter: “No one was hurt and the Police Department says it was not luck but strategy.”

Edward Broaster – Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Crime: “We have been doing significant work in terms of enhancing the citizen security despite some of those flare-ups in certain areas that we have to maintain police presence. Like I said the operationational effectiveness of the police officers on the ground will indicate that when an incident does arise the officers are right there to interdict those individuals who are hell-bent on committing a crime within the city.”

Jose Sanchez – Reporter: “The strategy is not straining the police’s budget and the Commissioner says that the Police Department can financially maintain the vigilance it has on the streets.”

Chester Williams – Commissioner of Police: “These operations that we are running is not costing the taxpayers nothing more than the ordinary police daily operations. When the Act first started we were spending a lot of money on food because we had to feed the officers but the eight-hour shift system dealt with that in the sense that they work eight hours and there is no need for us to feed them. In terms of other operating costs such as fuel cost, it is coming from our recurring budget so we are not asking the Government for no additional budget to be able to run operations. That is a good thing to know that we are not spending money on operations and that we are using the same recurring budget that we would normally use. Some of the strategies cut cost so you are finding out today that we are more effective with less. That does not mean we don’t want more, we still want more but we try to work with what we have until we can get more because we understand the constraints of the Government. The Government does have other responsibilities with other ministries so we try to work with what we have.”

A.S.P. Alejandro Cowo – Head C.I.B., Belize City: “Based on the investigation police arrested and charged two persons. One is Jaldwin Joseph Castillo 19 year old Belizean and a minor. Both were charged for the crime of robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition.”

Yesterday, we asked A and R to comment on the safety of the facility that has been a victim of robbers, three times now. While they were unable to comment on the incident, a representative would only say that A and R is assessing how to improve security at the location for staff and customers, including the installation of additional video cameras.  The business was open as per normal yesterday, minus the glass door which was shattered during Saturday’s incident.///////