Gary Paul Swank, 53, a cardiologist at Carilion Clinic, was shot dead Sunday as officials say the tourist destination has become “paralyzed by crime,” Belize Live News reported.
“We are fed up of the press conferences and constant claims that show crime is decreasing,” said John Briceno, leader of the People’s United Party. “The many Belizeans who are assaulted and the many businesspersons who are held at gunpoint, beaten and their establishment are robbed are a persistent reminder that crime continues to rise.”
Officials said Swank’s murder was one of four deadly incidents across the country in a four-day period, local news outlet Amandala reported.
Swank and his tour guide, Mario Nestle Graniel Jr., 53, were killed during a fly-fishing expedition in the San Pedro Town lagoon — five days after a group of five fishermen were shot to death in Swallow Caye.
They were identified as Ernest Wills Sr., 49, Travis Cooke, 23, Allison Jones, 19, Jamar Martinez, 23, and Winston Santos, 40.
No suspect has been released in the fishermen’s murders, but investigators believe pirates executed the five men and threw their bodies into the sea, the outlet reported.
Officials said a San Pedro resident was killed three days later by two unknown masked men. David Martinez, 23, reportedly was shot eight times by the gunmen, who ambushed him from the bushes in a Corozal Town yard.
Martinez was not known to the two men and the motive behind the shooting is unclear, authorities said.
The ninth murder this week in the country was 47-year-old Yolanda Requeña, who was stabbed to death Sunday in San Ignacio. She was talking to another man around 8:30 p.m. in a yard when the man’s wife showed up and stabbed her out of jealousy, according to Amandala.
The rash of violence follows what officials said have been months of deadly crimes in the beach oasis.
“So far, six months into 2019, there are 70 murders and that is not counting those people still missing … and those whose remains have yet to be identified,” Briceno said. “Crime is an issue which should never be made political, it’s a problem that requires all sectors of society to fight it together.”