The North side of Belize City is relatively low on crime. What crime there is tends to occur in the high traffic areas ranging from Marine Parade along Newtown Barracks and up to St. Thomas Street. However, the area between BTL Park in Belize City and MCC Grounds was on Saturday night the scene of a violent brawl that took the life of a 28 year old city resident and injured 3 others. 28 year old Austin Rowland, 22 year old Mark Benguche, 21 year old Eugene Arana and 28 year old Joel Bishop, had left BTL Park and were walking in front of the MCC when they were attacked by several men who caused injuries to all 4 of them. Rowland received a cut wound to the right ear and forehead, Benguche received a cut wound to the left cheek, Arana received three stab wounds to the right shoulder area and Bishop was left unconscious with injuries to his face and a fractured leg. Bishop would later die in hospital. But the question tonight is, did police come too little and too late? Reports suggest that despite having resources in the area, like the police booth inside the park, there was as much as a 30-minute delay in the mobile vehicle arriving and another hour to get the area under control. Today O.C. of Eastern Division (North), Assistant Commissioner of Police Dezerie Phillips, addressed and denied the reports.
Dezerie Philips: That is the first time I’m hearing of such of late response in regards to this incident. Like I said, when the call was received it was sometime around 3:05am. Police mobile was within the area and hey responded. We ensure that especially on the weekend nights, presence of police officers maintain within that entire UTown area. But of course you know that it’s a very long stretch of area, and so the police were in the area, not in the immediate area of the MCC Grounds but they were in the area and the responded shortly after receiving the call.
Police arriving on the scene only found the injured persons, including Bishop. They have detained several persons and impounded a vehicle, but according to ACP Phillips the success of the investigation is dependent on persons coming forward and telling what they saw; the victims, while not uncooperative, have provided limited information to go on.
Dezerie Philips: We’re investigating so we’re at the point where we’re trying to establish exactly what occurred, because we have not gotten any statement from anybody out here who can tell us what they saw or who were witnesses to this incident. All we have are the persons who we’ve found there, the five persons, one of which was unconscious who was mister Bishop. The other persons are saying that they did not see who attacked them, they were just punched from behind or hit from behind. So within the persons who were there that we found, none of them has given us any information really to help us in this investigation and I want to ask any member of the public at this time who have seen or know anything with regards to this incident to kindly come forward and assist us in this investigation.
Surveillance cameras in the area provided almost no information and the Department plans to implement a program to help businesses in that area get cameras. Despite reports suggesting possible gang rivalry Police have not established a motive or even the full sequence of events transpiring. A post-mortem examination on Bishop’s body is scheduled for Tuesday.