By William Ysaguirre
Members the Cycling Federation of Belize turned out en masse last Friday to lead the funeral procession of their slain brother-in-the ride Ernest “Dangalang” Thurton, a 41-year-old cyclist of the Santino’s team, who was gunned down behind his aunt’s home in the Junesville area of Belize City around 4:00 pm Tuesday evening, April 15.
Funeral services were held at the Central Assembly of God Church on Freetown Road in Belize City, where his employer and cycling teammate of more than 14 years, Minister of State for Economic Development, Santino Castillo, paid tribute to Thurton’s life as a hard worker on the job and on the road with his cycling team.
Castillo was one of the first on the scene after he got news of Thurton’s shooting, and was visibly stunned at the time by the senseless killing. Thurton’s murder flew in the face of the downturn in crime reported by law enforcement statistics which show murders in Belize have fallen by 30 percent from 2012 to 2013, and murders so far this year are only half of what the number was last year.
Thurton’s fellow cyclists were equally disconcerted by the murder, as Thurton was a family man and was known to live a clean life. He had no affiliation with any gang or any other sort of illegal or criminal activity.
Police have no suspects yet nor have they determined the motive for the shooting, which is believed may have been robbery. The evidence at the crime scene indicated Thurton was running away from his assailant when a single gunshot hit him i the back. Investigators found his body lying face down under a coconut tree.
Thurton worked as a messenger for Santiago Castillo Ltd, and did not carry cash in his work duties. On the day he was killed he was delivering cheques to the Income Tax Department. Thurton’s family commitment made him a self-appointed caretaker of his aunt’s home in Junesville. His aunt is away in the United States, and he was checking on the house when he was shot.
Thurton is survived by three sons and three daughters, and his common-law wife, whom he was planning to wed later this year.