Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez’s son Aubrey Dwight Lopez, a basketball superstar, was gunned down on Wednesday night around 11:20 p.m. on Prince Street.
Lopez, 30, of Belmopan residence, father of an eleven-year-old boy, husband of Judith Lopez, teacher, star basketball player of the Championship basketball team, the Kremandala Raiders and member of the team Belize National Basketball Team, was murdered in cold blood.
Lopez was discovered by police officers who responded to a report of a shooting on Prince Street, lying face down in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound visible on the left side of his head.
Lopez was taken to Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where the body is awaiting an autopsy.
The shocking murder of the star is just the latest in a city gone mad by homicidal criminals, who seem to have no respect for human life, not even their own.
Witnesses report that they saw a light blue Nissan Altima car drive away from the shooting scene and police intercepted a Nissan Altima with license # C-34741 with five occupants near Queen’s Square Market in Belize City.
Three of the suspects who had jumped out of the vehicle escaped and one allegedly attempted to shoot the mobile police unit with a shotgun. Fortunately for the officers, the weapon got stuck.
The police were able to arrest the other two people who were inside the vehicle. The Altima showed traces of human blood inside, particularly on the driver’s side, and police also recovered a chrome .38 revolver and a Smith & Wesson Brand .38 Special.
According to our sources, the Altima was initially driven by Lopez. It was not his personal vehicle, but one that had been loaned to him.
A local resident commented Amandala that although he did not see the murder unfold, he heard the gunshots. âI’m no gun expert, but I knew it wasn’t a 9mm shot last night, it sounded more powerful. . . I heard the sound of a gun .38 â.
Lopez, all who knew him, and there are many of them, had a free spirit and a jovial and inspiring character.
Amandala spoke this evening with Lopez’s father, the mayor of the city of Belmopan Simeon Lopez, who was still in a state of shock and disbelief.
The grieving father said he learned of his son’s murder by a close employee at Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital around midnight.
“It is difficult, not easy to understand, that we have to depend on prayers,” said Mayor Lopez.
âI don’t think it was theft because his ID was still on him. . . we have our own points of view. . . My son was a very cool and calm guy â.
It wasn’t something this family had ever expected, as Lopez was not known to make enemies or be affiliated with any type of gang.
Amandala also spoke with faculty members and students at Edward P. Yorke High School, still reeling from the tragedy, where, until his last day, Lopez was not just a confidant, a friend , a basketball teacher and coach, but an inspiration to them.
“Miss, why didn’t this person think about what he was doing to us when he did this to Mr. Lopez?” Was the question one of Lopez’s students asked assistant principal Josephine Flowers.
Flowers, who was Lopez’s former technical high school teacher turned colleague, told us yesterday Lopez “was extremely happy, for some reason,” which was not abnormal, as he was never surprised with a frown. In fact, he demanded that no one else wear one either, and in case you did, “He would do anything, to make sure you weren’t sad anymore, and if you did. was it, it made you laugh and smile, âsaid Lisa Bernard Tillet, 39, teacher and friend of Lopez.
âTo be honest, it was very shocking for all of us here. He’s been with us (high school employee) for over ten years. . . at the start of class this morning we had a little discussion session. . . we let the students speak out and express their feelings. . . They were all sad and were crying. . . We had to get the counselor to go to his (Lopez) 2L room, âTillett told us.
âHe was caring and saw himself as a father figure to these students. . . They are going to miss him, he will really miss him, âTillett said.
Tillet added that yesterday Lopez told him (because Monday was his birthday) “I know it was your birthday, don’t worry, I’ll give you your lunch”.
Amandala also spoke to another good friend of Lopez, who had attended the same tech school with him in previous years, Earl Noralez, a teacher at EP Yorke.
âYesterday at club time (Lopez was the basketball club coach) I changed my clothes, saw him and asked him if he was going to play basketball. . . he gave me the basketball, but it was raining so he left, âNoralez said.
âI feel like he gave me (yesterday) the task of taking care of his basketball club for him,â Noralez said.
Lopez, who had a passion and was extremely good at basketball, was an MVP player on the Raiders’ star basketball team and also led his Belize National Basketball team teammates to de many championships.
âI knew him well, we played ball together. . . (his death) is a loss in more ways than one. . . Aubrey has always been the top scorer, it’s weird because on the pitch he was an aggressor, but off the pitch it was like day and night he was relatively calm, âsaid Phillip Wade, technical commissioner for basketball.
âAubrey had this characteristic of leadership, he was one, if not the best basketball player in Belize,â Wade said.
Recently, Amandala sat down with two of Lopez’s basketball club members, as well as his students; Terrique Gabb, 15, second student, and Shaquille Samuels, 17, third student, who shared their individual experiences and memories of their star teacher and coach.
âMister Lopez was a humble man on the playing field, but if you misbehave, he defeats you. . . I didn’t like playing defensively on the pitch, but he told me I would never be a good player unless I learned how to play defensively, and now I’m a little better, âGabb said.
âAs a coach you had to really impress him to call you ‘balla’. He used to push you to be your best, on and off the pitch. . . What I liked about him was that he didn’t talk down to us; he got down to our level like he was a kid too, and he spoke to us like friends; he listened to us and always tried to teach us to be better people in life and to develop self-confidence. . . I will always remember what he thought of me, âSamuels said.
This tragic loss sent a wave of emotions through this already shaken, frightened and grieving community, and for these high school students, the loss of their beloved teacher is just the realization and confirmation that you do. you don’t have to get a bad reputation for bad things to come your way; you just have to be in the wrong place at the right time.
Amandala expresses its sincere condolences to the family of Aubrey Lopez, a beloved Belize.