Teenager Accused of Shooting at Cops Turns Himself In Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 April 2012 00:00

Ernesto BernardezPolice had been looking for 17-year-old Ernesto Bernardez for almost two weeks before he turned himself in on Sunday, April 15. Bernardez was wanted for shooting a police officer while on duty in Caye Caulker. Police Constable John Valerio was on patrol near the Caye Caulker Municipal Airstrip on Monday, April 2, when he saw Bernardez entering the terminal. Valerio knew that Bernardez was wanted in connection with the robbery of PC Ian Wagner’s 9 mm pistol which occurred on April 1. He decided to apprehend the suspect. Bus as soon as Valerio approached Bernardez he resisted arrest and the two got into a struggle. Bernardez managed to get a hold of Valerio’s gun and fired a shot at him before fleeing the scene. The shot grazed Valerio’s head. He was treated for his injury and released from the hospital the following day but remain on leave to recover.

Bernardez went on the run and police circulated pictures of him across the island. Charges against him include two counts of attempted murder. One count was in relation to the firearm robbery in which it is reported that he pointed the gun at PC Ian Wagner’s head and squeezed the trigger. Fortunately for Wagner, the safety was on and he was able to escape the execution attempt. Bernardez was accompanied to the police station by his mother. On Tuesday, he was arraigned in the Belize Family Court where he was slapped with as many as 7 charges. Those are two counts of attempted murder upon PC John Valerio and Ian Wagner, two counts of use of deadly means of harm upon Valerio and Wagner, one count of wounding upon Wagner, one count of robbery of a firearm and one count of theft of a firearm. Due to the nature of the offense, no plea was taken and he was remanded to the Wagner’s Facility, which is located at the Belize Central Prison’s compound. Bernardez is due back in Court on June 6.