School brawl results in broken jaw, 18 years old youth charged

A nineteen year old graduating senior of Excelsior High School in Belize City faces a long road to recovery after becoming embroiled in a brawl with an 18 year old classmate last Thursday on the Fabers Road campus. The incident allegedly occurred in front of several teachers and the school wardens. The girl, Shafane Flowers, now needs surgery to repair a lower jaw which was broken in three places. Her mother, Shirley Mejia, told the press today that according to her daughter, the young man accused of injuring her has been harassing her for several weeks.

Shirley Mejia – Mother:
vlcsnap-2013-05-14-19h44m52s225She explained to me that they exchanged words.  For a whole month she explained to me that she harassed her. I explained to her, go to the Principle or go to the teacher.  She said she went to Miss Gennie, and Miss Gennie told her, go to your homeroom, and the homeroom is where my sister teaches.  Three weeks before then we had a parents and teachers meeting, and one of the twins got up and said that my sister stuck up for my niece.  My sister said she never really wanted to intervene to that extent, because she didn’t want to seem biased towards her niece. So that is what took place.

The surgery Shafane needs costs $5,000. But according to her mother, police have gotten involved and there is the possibility of a lasting criminal record.

Shirley Mejia – Mother:
When I reached the school, I met two Police at school saying the young boy got threatened at school, and they knew about it. So we went to the station.  I asked them why they didn’t call me when I sought attention for this girl. She is the one that they hurt. They treat us like the young boy get hurt. It’s not right.  I think the Principal went about it the wrong way.  I think the Education Office really need to look into that school, because several times I went to the school, and I see the students talk to the teachers like they have no respect.  The teachers talk back to the students like they are just one. 

She wants the school to change that mentality and give her daughter the help she needs:

Shirley Mejia – Mother:
I would like the school to assist in some way to help this girl.  They could run the school in a better way, because if you send your child to school to get an education and they’re not safe in the school, then that is so bad.
With regards to the threats, the Police said if they could put evidence together, they would have to call for my daughter, to charge my daughter.  I don’t understand that at all. We don’t have time for that. We have to try and get the girl’s health back, because she doesn’t eat.

We also sat down with chairman of the Excelsior school board Marshall Nunez. Nunez began by expressing his empathy with the family for their situation, but said that there is only so much the school can do for Shafane when questioned about whether the school knew of the family’s pleas for assistance.

Marshall Nunez –  Chairman, Excelsior High School Board:
vlcsnap-2013-05-14-19h45m52s247I did not know that she had come to the school asking to help, either to help solicit the kind of funding, but I will have to say that within reason, if the school is in a position to help them in fund-raising, I think we’d be more than happy to help within reason.  The thing is her well-being has to be put as a priority. We don’t want that injury to create any further damage. In fact we want to see her get the corrective surgery.  We wish it can be done expeditiously, so that she can get back to some level of normalcy.  The school is not in a position to sponsor it, but we would do the best that we can to support any way that we can with reason.

According to Mr Nunez, the school’s principal held meetings with both parents and the Police, and the matter has been referred to the school board for appropriate disciplinary action. The accused boy has told authorities that he feels he was provoked, but Nunez maintains that does not excuse him from his act and he will not and has not been preferentially treated.

Marshall Nunez –  Chairman, Excelsior High School Board:
The mother is entitled to her opinion.  I was not here.  The way I understand it, it was basically a reaction. There wasn’t an embroiled brawl or an engaged fight.  The way I understand it was that, he reacted.  He threw a punch, and I understand that he also fired a kick, then walked away. The way that I understand it, it that she was knocked down, but she was not knocked out.  The young man was later brought to the office, the way I understood it, but the young lady left the compound. Once she had left the compound, the school is now compromising how we can bring the parties together, to address the situation. 

The school intends to make use of its conflict resolution training and counseling services for both students.

The following press release was received after we aired this story:

19 year old Shafane Flowers Student of Belize City visited the station at 1:10pm on 09/05/2013 and handed over a pair of medico legal form issued to her certifying  her injury as Grievous harm. She reported that she was at school when she was called to sit on a picnic bench by a school warden.  Upon going over to warden’s bench a male person namely Ernest Leslie sitting there said “I NUH WAH SHE SIT BY ME.”   She stated that she replied “I NUH NEED FI SIT BESIDE U.”  She reported that she and Mr. Leslie had a back and forth talking about who head was big and she got up and walked away.  While walking away Mr. Leslie told her “THE NEXT TIME U POINT IN MY FACE UH WAH C WEH I WAH DO WIT UH.”  She then point towards him saying “U CANT PLAY WIT ME ERNEST and Ernest reportedly got up walked towards her and punched her to the left side of her jaw with his right hand.  She further stated that she fell to the ground and Mr. Leslie began stamping her once to the left side of her face and once in her back.  She reportedly then managed to get up and went to get her bike and went home. Shortly after, she was accompanied by her mother to the Police Station and to the Hospital and made her report.
Medico-legal form issued and received Doctor certified  her injury as Grievous Harm due to broken jaw, Police have since charged Ernest Leslie 18 yrs D.O.B 04/07/95 Belizean student of 79 Neals Penn Road P/I of Grievous Harm.
Raphael Martinez
Police Press Officer
Ministry of National Security

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