By Ingrid Fernandez/Staff Journalist
Two Canadian tourists, Steven Temple, 75, and Cynthia Fredrick, 65, were robbed at gun point while one man was shot at the Tropical Education Center on mile 29 of the George Price Highway last Sunday.
Adolphus Palacio, 21, has since been charged and remanded to the Belize Central Prison for his role in the robbery.
Operations Manager of the Center, Celso Poot said Fredrick was out taking a picture of a crocodile and around 3:30 p.m. when an armed robber came after her. She was told to keep quiet and the robber proceeded to lock up both tourists in the bathroom.
After the robbers went through the guests’ belongings, they attempted to escape. They thieves stole iPhones, tablets and other personal belongings. Outside they met Gorge Lopez, who was visiting his father that live in the adjacent orchard.
Lopez said when he saw the two men, he thought they were in need of assistance so he stopped to help them. That is when one of them took out a gun and shot him to the back. The robber tried to shoot him to the head but the gun was jammed.
Lopez took a machete that he had in his pickup and injured Palacio with a chop wound to the leg. That’s when the other tried to hit him to the head with a rock but Lopez said he managed to block it with his hand, causing a wound to his arm.
“I tried to help them because I thought they were people from around there who work around the area, I saw them standing there and I thought there bike had broken down. It was a trap but I never thought they were up to this,”Lopez said.
He also said the experience has made him more suspicious of people and hesitant to render assistance to anyone on the street side.
Both robbers still managed to escape in Lopez’ red pick-up truck but Palacio ended up at the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) because of the machete wound.
Rural Eastern Division Commander, Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster said the suspect at KHMH was under police guard until he recovered and a police identification could be conducted. Police believe the thieves are from Mahogany Heights.
Poot said since the establishment of the center in 1994, it has never experienced any incident like this before. The management plans to make improvements to its existing security system to further safeguard guests.
On Wednesday police found the red pick-up truck in Ladyville village with the assistance of the community.