By Marion V. Ali
Vern “Bird” Magdaleno, 35, a tour guide of Belize City, was shot dead in the presence of his daughter shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Friday at Titoe Fry Chicken at the corner of Central American Boulevard and Faber’s Road in Belize City.
His killer, a gunman on a bicycle, rode on the sidewalk up to Magdaleno’s Mazda, as he waited for his wife to buy food, put the gun to his ear and pulled the trigger once. Several persons at the fast food joint watched as the gunman sped off after the killing. Just a few yards away, stood a police base intended to deter gang violence.
According to Superintendent Hilberto Romero of the Crimes Investigations Branch at Eastern Division, police are still gathering information before they make arrests. He added that police have yet to establish a motive, and said that Magdaleno had been arrested and charged a while back with burglary.
Police are also reviewing a surveillance camera perched atop a Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) van that was parked a short distance away from the shooting.
According to Magdaleno’s brother, Albert, he had visited him in Ladyville just hours before the shooting. He expressed regret that his brother’s wife and daughter witnessed the killing first hand, and that his brother’s 10 year-old son came running to the scene shortly after to find his father dead.
The family has no clue as to who wanted Magdaleno dead and have said that as far as they know, he had not received threats. One relative agreed that perhaps he was mistaken for someone else and paid with his life.
Magdaleno is the father of three children, girls aged 16 and six, and a son, aged 10. The 16 year-old daughter is expected to graduate from the Anglican Cathedral College (ACC) in June.