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No Suspects in Yanai Robbery, Murder

No Suspects in Yanai Robbery, Murder
February 15
21:34 2019

Police have no suspects yet in the robbery turned shooting and murder at the Yanai residence on Park Avenue in the Buttonwood Bay area of Belize City last Thursday night.

Today Assistant Superintendent of Police, Alejandro Cowo, head of the Crimes Investigations Branch (CIB) told the media that Police have remained in the area since the incident, and are reviewing a number of video surveillance recordings to see if the killers and the vehicle that was used in the incident were captured during the act. He added that one person who was detained had to be released for lack of evidence.

Masaki Yanai, 19, an engineering student at the University of Belize (UB), was shot dead when he went to the aid of his father, Takayuki Yanai, 53, last Thursday evening as he got out of his vehicle and walked towards his house with grocery items he had just purchased. Takayuki was also critically wounded, but is now recovering, and his condition is now listed as stable. During the attack, the thieves got away with Takayuki’s waist bag which contained the proceeds from the day’s sales at his restaurant, Taka Kitchen in Belize City.

Police say the two attackers reportedly came out of a parked vehicle, while the driver remained in the vehicle to take them away from the scene. That vehicle was reportedly parked and its occupants waited for Takayuki to arrive home – which suggests that the killers might have been studying the family’s movements for a few days before they pounced. Police say that a Police mobile that was on patrol in the area had just passed by moments before the attack.

Residents of the area reportedly heard the gunshots, which they thought at first to be firecrackers. However, when one of them peeked outside, they saw the two attackers running and the victims on the ground in their yard – the groceries strewn about them.

The Belize Police Department, with support from the business community, is offering a cash reward of $7,000 for relevant information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the attack.

Police Commissioner, Chester Williams, in a Facebook post last Friday, informed that Police “have not been able to get any good lead as witnesses are being very tight lipped.” He assured that any information will be kept strictly confidential and welcomed anyone with such information to inbox him under his Facebook name, Clyde Williams, or to contact him at 610-5716.

President of UB, Clement Sankat has sent out a press release, denouncing the attack and murder.

“It is with indignation and deep regret that I have to announce the death of one of our students Masaki Yanai. …Masaki was a bright, engaging and promising student. His peers described him as ‘an individual whose kind spirit positively impacted the lives of those he knew,’” Sankat wrote.

The Belize City campus Student Government also planned a candle light vigil for Tuesday evening at the ITVET Football Field in memory of Masaki.

On Monday, a team of Japanese journalists were in Belize covering the story and conducting interviews with Police about the incident. Their fellow countryman, Takayuki migrated to Belize with his family about 15 years ago, where he worked initially as the Japanese chef at Chon Saan Palace. An international chef by profession, Takayuki then branched off on his own.

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