Armed Forces Dismiss Family’s Allegations on Ambergris Caye Shooting Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 00:00

Kendale Flowers and Alexander Mazariegos On Tuesday, July 10, the Belize Coast Guard invited members of the media to their headquarters at mile 3 on the Western Highway to provide additional information on an operation conducted north of San Pedro Town.

On Saturday, July 7, an operation was launched by Belize’s security forces after sea traffickers complained of a hostile group in the area of Boca Bacalar Chico. A patrol team was sent to the area where, according to Captain John Borland, Commander of the Belize Coast Guard, they came across “telltale signs of what they believed were illicit activity”. Those signs were empty shell casings from high powered rifles, boxes that contained ammunition and damaged trees that were used for target practice. The patrol leader ordered the team to engage in tactical mode. A couple hours into their search of the island, the patrol caught up with four heavily armed men. Upon seeing the officers, the men opened fire. The patrol returned fire and after ten minutes of combat, the patrol squad was able to advance and take control of the area. Three of the hostile civilians were found dead and one was seen escaping into the bushes. A search for him was unsuccessful. The deceased men are 22-year-old Alexander Mazariegos of the Salvapan area of Belmopan; 23-year-old Alley Ismael Garcia, and 18-year-old Kendale “Tulu” Flowers, who resides at the corner of Caesar Ridge and Faber’s Road.

Flowers’ family was on the evening news on Monday, July 9, accusing the Police Department of carrying out a state-sanctioned execution. They pointed to the fact that no member of the force was injured during the exchange in which they claim to have been fired upon first. Flowers’ aunt claimed that she viewed her nephew’s body and said that he “would not have received a single gunshot to the head if there was indeed a shootout but would have been hit multiple times”. They pointed to an incident that occurred a couple weeks earlier in which Kendale Flowers was beaten and threatened by a police officer as evidence of a conspiracy. That emotional interview caused Belizeans to question the facts of the armed forces’ report. Thats why, the Belize Police Department decided to release photos to show that the men were indeed involved in extreme illicit activities. The photos showed Flowers and Mazariegos posing with similar (likely the same) high-powered rifles they were found with on Northern Ambergris Caye.
According to Commis-sioner of Police, David Henderson, the department received the photos one month prior to the operation and an investigation was ongoing. Chief executive Officer in the Ministry of Defense, Lt. Col. George Lovell, said that the department does not and will not practice releasing evidence in an ongoing case but the media coverage was so unfair that it was left with no choice. In response to the family’s comments about no officers being injured, he spoke about their excellent tactical training and asked if the family would have been satisfied if a couple officers were killed during the exchange as well. A postmortem disproved the aunt’s statement about a single gunshot. A postmortem conducted on the body of Flowers on Tuesday, July 10, revealed that he died as a result of “Internal and External Bleeding, Left Kidney, Left Lung and Heart Injuries as a Consequence of Gunshot wounds.”

Lovell said that the media needs to be fairer to the security forces in its coverage of crime news. Police continues to look for the fourth individual that was on the island. Commissioner Henderson said, “We know who he is and we know how to catch him.”