BELIZE (AP/WGNO) — Two brothers have been charged after a 23-year-old New Orleans woman was fatally shot outside a nightclub while vacationing in Central America over the weekend, police said.
The United States Embassy in the Central American nation of Belize on Sunday confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen and said it was closely monitoring the local investigation.
Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams told local outlet 7 News Belize on Saturday that two men had been arrested and charged with murder in the killing that occurred Friday (Dec. 30) night in San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, a popular tourist destination.
The U.S. Embassy, in keeping with State Department policy, did not identify the victim. However, 7 News Belize later identified her as 23-year-old J’Bria Bowens, an Xavier University graduate and nursing student a Louisiana State University.
Bowens was apparently struck by gunfire outside of Jaguar’s nightclub. In a press conference, Williams said the weapon resembled an M-16 or AR-15.
Off camera, the commissioner also confirmed that the gunman reportedly hid the weapon in a tree near the scene in the events leading up to the shooting.
“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.
Two brothers, Delson and Tionne Paguada, were taken into custody in the hours after the shooting. They both face charges in Bowens’ death and possession of guns to carry out illegal activity. Other booking details were not available.