Friday, July 19, 2024

Police name Christian Espat and Michael Brown as suspects in San Pedrito’s deadly mass shooting


Christan Espat & Michael Brown

Police have named islanders Christian Espat and Michael Brown as persons of interest in the mass shooting in the San Pedrito subdivision, leaving islanders Delmar Rodriguez, his baby daughter Amari, and Carlos Chi dead. The spray of bullets also left four others injured. Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Chester Williams said they are actively looking for Espat and Brown and appeal to the public to contact them with any leads to apprehend these two persons. The San Pedro police Station can be reached at 206-2022.

The ComPol stated during a press conference on Monday, October 23rd, that the motive dealt with drugs. According to him, ‘wet drops’ of floating drugs on the sea may have been found by one of the deceased. The ComPol said one of the dead was an affiliate of Espat, and after such drugs were found, there was a division between them. “We are hearing that there was not an equitable share of the drugs, and based on that, the deceased was targeted,” said ComPol Williams. He said this motive is why they continue investigating and looking for Espat and Brown.

ComPol spoke about the number of weapons and ammunition removed from the streets of San Pedro. He said that over 20 firearms, some of the high caliber, and over 400 rounds of ammunition have been found across the island and removed. He said Espat and Brown were detained in the past concerning some of these findings, but police have been unable to charge them due to pressure from their legal defense.

The ComPol condemned the shocking incident in San Pedrito. In the early hours of Monday (12am) Delmar Rodriguez was driving home with his common-law wife Karla Cordova, their daughter Amari, Leonel Cornejo, and Carlos Chi. When they were about to arrive home, they were ambushed by two gunmen who emerged from the mangroves on the lagoon side. The police report indicates that witnesses saw two males dressed in full black clothing shooting at them. Rodriguez was fatally injured and fell off the cart. The report states that Cornejo managed to get behind the wheel and drove to Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II with Cordova and her injured daughter. Cordova was not injured, but her baby daughter Amari did not survive and was pronounced dead on arrival.

The hail of gunshots also injured some bystanders, one of whom underwent surgery in Belize City and the others listed in critical condition in hospital. The wounded include Jose Hernandez, 31, Leonel Cornejo, 27, Ivan Guerra, 23, and Randy Guerra, 19. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams strongly condemned the incident and said they are doing everything possible to bring Espat and Brown to justice.

Espat’s past brushes with the law

Espat is no stranger to the law and has been associated with several murders in the past. According to records, Espat was one of two persons injured during a drug-related shootout in northern Ambergris Caye in April 2014. Then, two years later, in February 2016, he was detained for Possession of Drugs and Firearms believed to have been used in the execution of Frank Edwards Jr. in that same moment. In April of that same year, Espat was arrested along with Alex Espat for Possession of Controlled Drugs and Drug Trafficking after they were found with cocaine and marijuana in their apartment.

In August 2017, he was again arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of dangerous harm, and three counts of use of deadly means of harm. The following year, in July 2018, he was detained after being out on bail and charged and remanded for the murder of American National Cliff Kirk. In April 2019, the murder charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence, and Espat was free. However, in July of that same year, he became a person of interest to police following the double murder of Belizean tour guide Mario Graniel and American tourist Dr. Gary Swank.

Espat was recently wanted for the murder of his ex-partner, Mirsa Morales, in May of this year. Espat handed himself to the police as he claimed innocence against any accusations. Espat was in custody for questioning at the San Pedro Police Station and later released.

As of October 23rd, Espat is wanted again by police for the murder investigation that left three dead in the San Pedrito Area. There are no details on Michael Brown, but police say he is someone known to them.

The Espat family has also lost four sons and two cousins to violence. Before Christian Espat became known to police, his cousin Eduardo Brahlee Gutierrez was one of the three men murdered in northern Ambergris Caye in 2009. In 2012, Charlie Espat and his cousin Daniel Alamilla 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 by Central Park and succumbed to his injuries. In 2014, Roland Espat Jr. was shot dead 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 gunshots while he slept with his parents.

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