The United States Embassy in the Central American nation of Belize on Sunday confirmed the death of an American tourist there and said it was closely monitoring the local investigation, Associated Press reported.
According to Nola.com, the victim’s name is J’Bria Bowens, a nursing student a Louisiana State University.
Bowens was struck by a stray bullet. The gunmen began shooting at a group of people who were partying at Jaguar’s nightclub. The club is located in San Pedro’s Central Park.
The American tourist was taken to the Dr Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II. She was already dead on arrival.
Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams told local news outlets that Belize officers arrested two men, charging them with murder in the killing that occurred Friday night in San Pedro town.
“The tourist was not the intended target, it just so happened she was in the line of fire between these two factions,” Williams told 7 News Belize. He said the attackers used an assault rifle and the intended target had been a local gang leader.
Random Act Of Terrorism
Belize Prime Minister John Briceño confirmed that police have arrested a number of persons in connection with the murder of the American tourist.
Briceño has directed Police Commissioner Chester Williams to lead the investigation into her death.
In a statement, Briceño described Bowens’ death as a “random act of terrorism”.
Bricño stated he understands the outrage that exists in the community given the impact it can have on the vital tourism sector.
However, the Prime Minister emphasized that San Pedro remains a safe place for people to visit.
“San Pedro has long enjoyed peace and security as a result of strong, disciplined Police presence and solid community support,” he said.
He has called on residents of San Pedro to stand with police as they hunt for criminals in the community.
Caution While Traveling
In October 2022, the U.S. State Department listed Belize as a Level 2 travel advisory for Belize. According to the document, the country urges “increased caution” due to high levels of violent crime, “such as sexual assault, home invasions, armed robberies, and murder – are common even during daylight hours and in tourist areas.”
State Department also advised that travelers must exercise caution while traveling to the south side of Belize City. Local police lack the resources and training to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Most crimes remain unresolved and unprosecuted,” it added.
San Pedro Town is the one and only town on the popular Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye, Belize. As the most-visited destination in the country, San Pedro is home to the ‘second-largest’ barrier reed in the world. The San Pedro Barrier Reef. It holds a diverse number of species. One of the primary industries in the town is tourism, most notably scuba diving.
San Pedro nightlife offers restaurants, bars and nightclubs. However, the city’s party scene isn’t a wild one like some other parts of the Caribbean. The most popular nightclub in town is Jaguar’s Temple. It’s also the only nightclub that opens after midnight.
In December 2022, Belize dropped all Covid-related travel restrictions. The country also lifted the mask mandate, but travelers may still need a mask for their inbound flight and inside the airport. Also, Belize is no longer requiring testing for entry, regardless of vaccination status.