Crime

Sneak murder in the bush reminds victim’s family of clash with policeman

By Marion V. Ali
Staff Reporter

Belmopan police are trying to crack the murder mystery of Donatilo Canales, a 54 year old farmer who was shot dead in the Valley of Peace.

His wife, Margarita, and a neighbor found his body in a bushy area behind their house shortly after midnight on Saturday. Alarmed by a volley of gunshots which exploded near their home, Margarita and her neighbour went to investigate.
She told police that Canales had gone through his back door to investigate why his dogs were persistently barking. When he took too long to return, Margarita decided to go in search for him.

The gunshot blasts in the still of the night prompted her to take even swifter action and, together with the neighbour, she found him about 100 yards behind his house.

Police told The Reporter that contrary to other media reports, they found no weapon near Canales’ body. What investigators did find, however, were four expended bullet casings and Canales’ bullet-riddled body. He had been shot in the head, chest, throat and leg.

Canales had been confined to his bed for most the past two years, recovering from a gunshot wound he had received. He had been shot in the left leg by police officer, Sgt. Paulino Reyes.

Reyes reported at the time that he was forced to shoot Canales to subdue him during a police search for drugs. Reyes claimed that Canales was a “known drug dealer”.

During the search, Reyes claimed, Canales had punched him in the face.
The gunshot wound to Canales’ left leg had just healed enough to allow him back on his feet when his life was cut short.

Canales’ family members have since relocated to a new location out of fear for their own safety. They also vehemently deny the allegations that he dealt with drugs or assaulted the police officer and provoked the shooting.

Police have confiscated the service weapon assigned to Reyes for ballistics testing to see if it was involved in the murder. In the line of their investigations, they also checked into Reyes’ wherabouts at the time of the murder and report that he has an air-tight alibi.

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