Shocking Daylight Tragedy: Woman and Child Killed in Belmopan Market Plaza Shooting

Shocking Daylight Tragedy: Woman and Child Killed in Belmopan Market Plaza Shooting

A woman and a child were killed in broad daylight this afternoon.  Videos surfaced with the mother lying dead on the ground, an 8-year-old little girl in the pan of a pickup truck, motionless; and a little boy of 11 years, bloodied, and screeching in pain from the bullet that hit him.  The scene was graphic, and the disruption of what is normally a quiet and peaceful environment, will not be forgotten anytime soon.  It was just after three o’clock that the shooter appeared inside the Belmopan Market Plaza, and targeted a family of four that had migrated to Belize from The Netherlands.  It took a few moments before the vendors and residents realized what was really happening.  One resident who frequents the market witnessed the ordeal, saying that the family was targeted by the shooter, and that the shooter indicated that he was there to teach them a lesson.

Witness: “I just come, we came to eat and then we purchased an ice cream and I saw them sitting down right on the chair because I just passed through there.”

Reporter: The family.

Witness: “The whole family was sitting down there and eating ice cream as well. So now when I heard “bang” the first shot but you know I thought it was a popshot or something like that you know celebrations is going on, one of those birthdays and thing but when I saw them scatter I said what is this I span around and I saw that the guy came and he followed the lady down the line, the lady was running and he was shooting at her. And then he saw the that lady fell he ran through the middle of the place and followed the children by where the parking lot was and the children were going around the car because they already knew that he wanted to shoot them and then as he caught them – it wasn’t a far distance maybe close distance and shoot them because his intention was to kill not leave anybody alive you understand ?”

Reporter: So it’s not even like the kids got caught in the cross fire, he went and targeted the kids ? 

Witness: “He went and targeted them like if I’m following you to kill you no to just leave you alive you understand ? He didn’t leave them to run he went to find them to kill them, to shoot them. That’s really rough because you know this is a market place where everybody this is an ice cream place where every child comes and you know they want ice cream. It’s rough what just happened and it’s sad because you know kids sometimes don’t have anything to do with the adult’s problems and people involve kids and involve anybody who they find in the place and that’s really really rough. We don’t know the man, he pointed to everyone that tried to go against him and any bad step and the man would shoot you. The man threw the gun and then he said he taught them a lesson. I don’t know what lesson he was teaching but he was teaching everybody a lesson.”

It is unclear what lesson the shooter was teaching, but it didn’t take long for Police to detain him and collect the firearm believed to have been used in what is now a case of double murder.  Police’s Western Regional Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Suzette Anderson, was on the scene, and gave us a report on the preliminary findings.

Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “Information had been received of three persons being shot which includes a woman along with a child being a female child and a male child. At the time the incident happened it appears that the shooter which is a male person opened fire upon these individuals. That person was subsequently detained by the police and also the firearm which was a 9mm pistol was retrieved from that person as well and he’s currently in our custody. At this point in time we are still trying to piece together what exactly transpired, what may have been the motive behind the shooting but from all accounts the persons who are victims seemingly were seated in this general area when the person seemingly came, had conversation with these persons and then opened fire upon these individuals.”

Reporter: How old were these children ?

Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “From the information we have gathered so far the child who is deceased is an 11 year old female child and the male child who is a victim who is still at the hospital being attended to is 7 years of age and then the woman who is an adult who seemingly is the mother of the two children.”

Reporter: Is she deceased or is she still alive ?

Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “From all accounts she is deceased as well so we have two persons who have died so far which is the mother of the child and the girl.”

Reporter: Is this a Belizean family ? 

Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “No. From all accounts we have gathered so far these people are foreign nationals.”

Reporter: Would you know which nationality ? 

Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “So far indications are that they are of the Netherlands so they seem to be Dutch but they had been residing in Belize.”

Reporter: So it wasn’t vacation, they were living here.
Suzette Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Regional Commander: “No they had been living in Belize from what we have gathered so far in the Agua Viva Community by Armenia Village within Belmopan. So I can confirm that the shooter from the Social Security Card that we have observed about him it reflects him as a Haitian American. From all indications he was living in Belize and he seemed to be the owner of a resort which is within the Belmopan area.”

We have learnt that the 60-year-old, Haitian man detained is a naturalized American, and is being questioned.  As the family processes this tragedy, and residents are trying to figure out what happened, the recently elected Mayor, Pablo Cawich and his councilors were sworn in at the City Hall.  We’ll tell you of that ceremony later this week, but tonight we bring you the sentiments of Belmopan’s Area Representative, Oscar Mira and Mayor Cawich.

Oscar Mira, Area Representative: “The loss of live or anybody’s life is very tragic. I send my condolences to the family, to friends and to all those who were caught up in that madness that happened at the market today. I had so many calls and so many messages coming in as it was happening and it has traumatized a lot of us. I am to meet with the ComPol now to ensure that we work for the safety of our city and for the safety of our citizens. The police can do so much but it’s up to us as well as citizens to ensure that we do our part. There are certain things that police cannot prevent, there are certain things that happen and I’m going to get a full briefing from the police as soon as I’m done.”

Pablo Cawich, Belmopan Mayor: “It’s an unfortunate event. My heart goes out to the family. The plans that you are inquiring about has to do with citizen security at two levels. It has to do with surveillance and evidence capturing at a city level. We plan on implementing a community surveillance system across this city starting in different phases with the first phase being addressing strategic areas in the city and it will be built by multiple phases. The second portion is to have a tighter relationship with the police department and the neighborhoods. There are many neighborhoods that do not really have a proper neighborhood watch so we need to work along with the residents of the different neighborhoods to ensure that every community, every area is doing their part for the safety of the city.”

Late this evening, just before six o’clock, Love News spoke with the father of the little girl, 8-year-old, Metgen Petkau.  We are now learning that the father had given permission for the little girl to accompany the family into Belmopan. The name of the woman killed has been confirmed as Laura Fiorito.  We will keep following this story.

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