As we go to press, San Ignacio Police are taking statements and conducting an investigation into an officer-involved shooting which occurred at around 7:30 last night. One of those statements, hopefully providing critical information, will be taken from Roberto Chan, 28, a bullet from a GSU-held gun lodged in his upper right shoulder.
It happened on the Santa Rosa road near the community of Calla Creek, and the allegation by the Chan family is incredible. They claim they were driving their white Toyota 4-Runner on the road heading home when shots rang out. A distraught Guadalupe Chan told the Reporter “we were coming from visiting a friend and we just heard gunshots. We didn’t see any vehicle, any checkpoint, any lights, anything. I heard the Police shout Police, Police so I shouted to them – don’t shoot, don’t shoot – I have two babies inside of the vehicle.”
The couple’s six year old daughter, Annie, was lying flat on the back seat sleeping. Chan was holding on to their 7-month old son in the front seat. The bullet passed through the rear of the drivers’ seat and entered Roberto’s shoulder. He was crying last night as he told the Reporter, “I was coming off the Santa Rosa road with my wife and two children when the Police shot me. I don’t know why. There was no checkpoint there. They just came out of the bushes and shot me. I don’t know why.”
It is an incredible allegation against the GSU. But officers who were on that dark, deserted stretch of road that night claim that it is a complete fabrication. They say they were on operations on the Santa Rosa road which is near an illicit but heavily trafficked border point with Guatemala. The unit had allegedly received information that a weapon or weapons would be coming into Belize through that area, and it would be coming in a white SUV – Chan’s SUV. They claim they tried to intercept it and that when their lives were threatened. Commander of the GSU Supt. Mark Flowers told the Reporter that “an SUV almost rammed two officers and then reversed in their direction having missed them the first time. A shot was fired which we now know struck the driver.”
The couple, Roberto and his wife Lupe claim that they thought they were being attacked by bandits on that deserted stretch. The Police claim, on the other hand, that they had a Police vehicle parked on the side, and all officers had on uniforms with GSU emblazoned on them in bright, white letters. But if they had a Police vehicle there, why is it that the injured Chan had to be rushed by Police to the San Ignacio Hospital in his own vehicle?
Those questions and others will have to be answered by the San Ignacio Police formation. Late this evening Deputy Commander ASP Reymundo Reyes told the Reporter that they were preparing to take a statement from Roberto Chan to get his side of the story. According to Reyes, “the investigation will reveal whether the shot fired was justified. At this moment we have different stories. The officers are saying that they were on the operation when they tried to stop the vehicle and the vehicle tried to run them over. So far in a statement from the wife she is saying that while they were driving by they only heard two gunshots and then the husband realized that he has been shot.”
According to Reyes, a thorough search of the white 4-Runner was conducted, and the only thing which could be classified as contraband were two unopened bottles of Corona beer.
Following an investigation, the case file will be handed to the DPP for instructions on how to proceed and who, if anybody, to charge for the incident.