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Updated: Jan 8, 2022

BDF soldier, Private Raheem Valencio, has been charged for the crime of murder in connection to Sunday night’s fatal shooting of off-duty BDF Soldier, Jessie Escobar.

After three days of public outrage, heavy criticism on social media, and violent demonstrations, charges have been levied upon the composite patrol responsible for the death of Escobar.

Valencio along with BDF soldier, Private Ramon Alcoser and Special Constable Juan Morales appeared before the Magistrates Court to face charges surrounding the shooting of the off-duty soldier. While Valencio was charged for the act of murder, Alcoser and Morales have been charged with “Perverting the course of justice.”

Notably, since the release of the surveillance footage, tensions have been high between the public and the law enforcers. The epicentre of that tension was in Santa Familia, Cayo, where the family and friends of the slain soldier reside. There were various reports of aggressive protesting for justice for their fellow villager.

As loud as the chants of protest and pint bottles being broken were heard, smoke could also be seen from a distance due the lighting of tires in the middle of the streets. Aside from the hostile demonstrations, the act of Arson was also committed in retaliation of the shooting.

Despite the belligerent atmosphere in Santa Familia, Commission of Police Chester Williams decided to meet with the people of the village to peacefully mediate and come to a truce. Williams addressed the concerns of angry villagers. Escobar’s immediate family demanded that the shooter be charged for murder or there would be no truce or peace on their end.

Williams assured them that they would do everything they could to levy the appropriate charges. He also pardoned the village for the acts of violent protesting in hopes that the village and law enforcement could move toward a more amicable direction.

“I did see the videos from what happened last night and yes while it was happening, police wanted to engage and I said to the police ‘no,’ we’re not going to engage these people. People do have the right to dissent and even though it was not a peaceful dissent, we try to understand the pain of the village over what had transpired and so with that we allowed them to express themselves the way they did last night. While yes what they did last night was wrong, we have to be sensitive to how people feel. The village is outraged and not only the village, I think all of us right thinking persons are outraged over what happened. … We have to understand their position and why they did what they did, so I’m not going to bring charges to anybody for what happened last night,” mentioned Williams in light of the villager’s angry outbursts.

Though Williams was nice enough to pardon the demonstrations, he asserted that the Arson case is still an active investigation and the person responsible will be charged.

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