Christian Espat, Nigel Williams and a minor arrested and charged in shooting robbery of Cliff Kirk

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Christian Espat

Nigel Williams

On Monday, July 9th, 22-year-old Christian Espat, 25-year-old Nigel Williams, along with a 16-year-old minor were formally arraigned at the San Pedro Magistrate Court in connection with the robbery and shooting of retired American National Cliff Kirk.

The trio was denied bail and remanded to the Belize Central Prison until their next court date set for September 12, 2018. Kirk was shot in the head when four robbers allegedly stormed his house located off the coast of north-west Ambergris Caye on Thursday, July 5th. During the home invasion, the assailants stole a 9mm pistol, a 12- gauge shotgun and a briefcase with valuables. Two days after, Espat, Williams and the minor were arrested and jointly charged with Aggravated Burglary, Attempted Murder, Dangerous Harm and use of deadly means of harm.

The initial police report indicated that four male persons had assaulted 66-year-old Kirk on his property. Kirk was allegedly stepping out of his house, when one of the culprits shot him to his head, after which they proceeded to steal guns and valuables and left the area via two jet skis.

Cliff was a retired LT Colonel and his wife Linda a retired Full Colonel of the armed forces of the United States of America and had been living in Belize since the 1980’s. They fell in love with Ambergris Caye and acquired a property off the northern coast of the island and called it Casas Brisas.

Cliff Kirk survived the shooting and was transported to the United States of America on Friday, July 6th, after receiving medical treatment in Belize.

Families claim Police brutality

Nigel Williams headed to court

Christian Espat headed to court

Members of the Espat family were at the San Pedro Magistrate Court on Monday as the trio was being arraigned. The family spoke to the media, claiming that the police are wrongfully accusing their relatives. Priscila Espat, Christian’s mother, alleges that police used excessive force on her son and is thus accusing them of police brutality. Priscila shared that she learned that police took her son along with the other persons accused up the coast in northern Ambergris Caye where they were allegedly tortured. She believes that every time something happens on the island, her children are always to blame by the authorities. “Other people commit these crimes and my children are always targeted by police,” she said. “The police should investigate well before they apprehend my sons and beat them up. I would agree for them to get punished if they are guilty, but I am sure they are not guilty of this crime.”

Another member of the Espat family spoke to the media, stating that he had been arrested along with Christian, Williams, and the minor and that the police took them up the coast. When they were in an isolated area in northern Ambergris Caye, police allegedly placed them on the ground and fired shots around them while their faces were covered, and beat them up as well. According to his testimonial, police pepper-sprayed and Tasered them in an attempt to get information. He further alleged that when everyone was brought back to the police station, Christian was the main target of the investigating officers.

At some time in the night, Christian was handcuffed to a chair and duct tape was wrapped around his mouth, and his face was covered with a plastic bag. However, just when the officer was about to pepper spray Christian, the officer received a phone call and had to return Christian to his cell. Christian told his cell-mates that the officer said he was going to kill them. Shortly after, officers allegedly entered the holding cell and started beating and pepper spraying them. They further claimed that a confrontation ensued as officers apparently wanted to remove the inmates from the area of the room where there is surveillance. They started screaming at the top of their lungs, and apparently this discouraged the police from continuing with the beating. Christian was apparently taken to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, where he was treated for his injuries. The San Pedro Sun attempted to confirm whether this actually happened but no comment was given.

The Espat family also told the media that they fear for their lives, as they allege that the police have told them they will ‘get rid of them’. They claim that the police are targeting them in order to appear as if they are doing their job. They acknowledge that in the past, some of their family members have been notorious for crimes, but that not all Espats are into such a negative lifestyle. “We are fishermen. That’s all we know to do, this is unfair,” they claim.

The mother of the minor explained that her son was at home during the day when the robbery took place and believes that the police are being unjust. She truly believes that police is wrongfully accusing her son and the others charged for the crime.

Christian Espat’s record with police

Christian Espat has had several brushes with the law in the past. The most recent was in August 2017, when he was charged and arraigned on Monday, August 14, 2017, for a shooting incident that occurred in the San Pedrito Area two days earlier. He was accused of allegedly shooting 27-year-old Lyndon Tyndall, and two primary school students, ages 9 and 12 when they were at a Woodwork Shop.
According to the police report, Tyndall received three gunshot wounds to the left side of his abdomen and three gunshot wounds to his left leg. The 9-year-old minor was shot in the wrist and the other student was shot in the right buttock.

Espat’s attorney, Dickie Bradley was able to secure his liberty at a bail hearing before Justice Adolph Lucas, who released him on $10,000 bail.

Other brushes with the law:
On April 7, 2016, Christian was arrested along with Alex Espat for the offense of “Possession of Controlled Drugs” and “Drug Trafficking” following the discovery of 23.3 grams of Cocaine and 2.9 grams of Cannabis in their apartment.
A month later, he brushed with the law again when he was detained for ‘Possession of Drugs and Firearms’, on May 3, 2016. At the time, Police speculated that the weapons found in his possession fit the description of those used in the assassination of Frank Edwards Jr., in February of 2016.
Christian Espat was also one of two persons injured during a drug-related shootout in Northern Ambergris Caye in April of 2014.
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The Espat family has also lost four sons and two cousins to violence. Eduardo Brahlee Gutierrez (cousin) was one of the three men murdered in northern Ambergris Caye in 2009. In 2012, Charlie Espat (18) and his cousin Daniel Alamilla (17) were found buried in a shallow grave in Orange Walk after being reported missing. On January 26, 2013, Byron Espat-Estrada was stabbed multiple times inside Daddy Rock nightclub, and he succumbed to his injuries at the PolyClinic an hour later. In 2014, Rolando Espat Jr. (22) was gunned down near his home in San Pedrito, and in a late night shooting on February 24, 2015, two-year-old Charlie Daniel Espat was killed in a hail of gunfire while he slept.

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