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George Street Resident Shot Dead

Jul 27, 2023

George Street Resident Shot Dead

James Escarpeta

A second murder has been recorded in Belize City over the span of two days. This is now the fifth Belize City resident to be murdered within the last two weeks. On Wednesday night, thirty-eight-year-old James Escarpeta was walking on West Street towards George Street when he was gunned down. Reports are that a gunman approached Escarpeta from behind and fired a shot at him from close range. Escarpeta fell to the ground and died on the scene while the gunman made good his escape. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Just before seven p.m. on Wednesday night, shots rang out on West Street in Belize City. Moments later, thirty-eight-year-old George Street Resident, James Escarpeta laid motionless on the ground. This morning, we spoke with his brother, Eugene Escarpeta, at their George Street home.

Eugene Escarpeta

Eugene Escarpeta, Brother of James Escarpeta

“Well I was on the bus heading towards Pound Yard where I will get off then come home from there. But from I got the news, I jumped off the bus before it turned to the back yard where they park and I headed straight to the crime scene. I met my mom out there, then my little sister came behind, then another friends.”

The murder victim is said to have frequented Plues Street. Only last week, a twenty-three-year-old mother was shot and killed while sleeping inside a bedroom on Plues Street. Since then, a spate of gang-related murders has occurred across the city.  But, Eugene Escarpeta says he did not know his brother to be a member of any gang.

Eugene Escarpeta,

“My brother he is not gang affiliated or gang related or thing like that. So, we nuh know he as no trouble maker. The first time he gawn dah jail he was wrongly accused. So, that trips he out and he gone through a lot. From ever since, he gawn back the second or the third time, and we have been waiting patiently to get him back close to us and since we finally get the chance to have him back around us when he come out I said, bredda yo the out yah, mek sure yo stay out yah, yo know gwen back dah back deh, he listened. I could say what he gawn do in that area dah try find a lee smoke or something because weh ih get it from round yah nevah have and he was on his way back home when that happened.”

According to Eugene, his brother became mentally unstable after his first time behind bars. In one instance, James Escarpeta ended up at the Belize Central Prison in 2006 when he was arrested and charged along with Brandon Tillett for the murder of Kevin Parks and the shooting of Charlie Moss that occurred on Euphrates Avenue. In another incident in 2019, the murder victim attempted to rob a gas station. He held up two attendants and ran off with an undisclosed amount of cash. But, he did not get far as one of the employees set chase and apprehended him.

Eugene Escarpeta,

“I never talk to him about that, but we all know that somebody set him up to does that. Because, on his own he wouldn’t have do something like that. So, someone gave him that gun and set him up to do that.”

Eugene is a drummer. He volunteers with the organization, Drums Not Guns that works to promote peace through drumming in areas riddled with gang warfare. In the wake of his brother’s murder, he shared these somber words.

Eugene Escarpeta,

“I don’t know why unu have to kill out each other like a bunch of animals. We are humans, everybody have feeling. Everybody have deh day, but nuh by gun violence. Unu need to put down the guns and stop this senseless killing and stop the kill out one another cause all ah we dah blood.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.