Young welder rejects gang, killed on his birthday

By Marion V. Ali
Staff Reporter

Twenty-two-year-old David Rivas lived each day fearing that it would be his last.  Those fears came to pass around 10:00 on Friday night when he was shot.

Rivas, a welder by profession, was walking on Roches Street in the St. Martin de Porres area with a minor. He stopped for a few minutes to speak to friends wishing him well on his upcoming birthday.

Just then, a man emerged from the darkness and fired off a volley of bullets at him.  When he collapsed, the gunman walked up to him, turned him over and pumped more lead into his body at close range. 

Rivas died around 1:19 a.m. on Saturday, his birthday, at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.
Rivas had predicted his death and warned his family that he felt he was not going to live to see his birthday, because somebody wanted him dead. 

Superintendent Hilberto Romero told Reporter that Rivas had had a dispute “with persons in that area”.  He added that Rivas had come in contact with the law before, but never for a grave offense.
Rivas’ family, who declined on-camera interviews, told the media that elements of a street gang in the area wanted to recruit Rivas into their gang.

They hunted him down after he defiantly rejected their demands.  Since that point, he was stabbed, and twice someone shot at his house.  Now they believe that a member of the same gang is responsible for his death.
Superintendent Romero said that Rivas never reported that he had been targeted.

The girl who accompanied him the night also suffered a gunshot wound, from which she is now recovering.
Rivas, who studied at the University of Belize, is described as a talented welder whose skills won the attention of quite a few persons.  He played a major role in the demolition of the former Belize City Centre complex and had his own welding shop on La Croix Boulevard.

Police had detained one suspect, but have not yet filed any charges.

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