Jane Usher area red hot; three murders in 2 weeks!

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

For the third time in only two weeks, the Jane Usher area has blown up like a wild west scene, with the murders of three youths, all of which are suspected to be linked. This speculation, we hasten to say, however, is based on street reports, in the absence of a healthy police/media relationship that would afford us the opportunity to get that point clarified.

Nonetheless, aside from the police check points in the area, the police seem to have no effective prevention strategy in place to diffuse the level of tension and fear that has enveloped the area.

The latest victim to the gun war is Keith Middleton, 31, a resident of Mud Street off Jane Usher Boulevard in Port Loyola, Belize City. Sometime around 7:00 Monday night, Middleton was on his back steps talking to a friend in his yard when a third person approached him and opened fire at him. Several bullets hit him in the face and he fell slumped over on his stairs, dead.

Middleton had been getting threats on his life for some time, his family said, and twice before, in 2010, he was shot. They feel that his killer was the same one who had attempted on his life back then.

Middleton, a construction worker, was imprisoned for a month following a domestic assault upon his ex common-law wife in July of this year.

Last week, the skeletal remains of Erwin Rodriguez, 17, were found, days after his bicycle was retrieved from the swamp in the same constituency. His hands had been bound with a belt and he was shot multiple times in the head and face. The week before that, and Justin ‘Ethdan’ Hyde, 21, was shot dead as he rode with a friend on Curl Thompson Street where he lived.

Since the killing spree started, threats have reportedly been circulating among the street youths in the area – all linked to the previous killings. This, again, in not corroborated by police because of the strained police/media relations.

Residents of the area have been clamouring for more police presence since the gun violence erupted in the area earlier this year. That appeal resulted in the placement of a police checkpoint near the entrance of the “hotspot”, but that has not deterred the frequency of gun play. Police, during their September 16 Meet and Greet visit to the area, said they would have introduced crime-fighting strategies.

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