American murdered in San Ignacio

The content originally appeared on: Amandala Newspaper

Jeffery Coats, manager of Replay Night Club, was shot multiple times by two unknown gunmen after he had a run-in at his establishment with gang affiliates in San Ignacio, which had caused him to heighten the security at the club.

by Marco Lopez

SAN IGNACIO, Cayo District, Mon. Sept. 26, 2022

On Sunday morning, sometime after 3:00 a.m, Jeffery Coats, 42, an American author of San Ignacio was murdered in cold blood in front of Replay Night Club, an establishment he co-manages with his business partner. According to initial police reports, two men, who were dressed in full black and whose heads were covered by helmets, ambushed him as he was about to leave the establishment on his Blue Suzuki Ninja motorcycle. About an hour before, at about 2:00 a.m., he and the co-owner of the club had closed the establishment, located on Waight Street in San Ignacio, to mark the end of the September celebrations, after which Coats and his partner, along with their employees, remained in the club until about 3:00 a.m., when Coats decided to leave.

He made his way downstairs of the establishment and was waiting for his partner when he was shot multiple times by the two men, who, according to reports, were driving in a direction opposite to the flow of traffic. When police arrived on the scene, they saw him suffering from wounds to his upper body and rushed him to the San Ignacio Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:23 on Sunday morning.

“Good morning, everyone, we are in complete disbelief of what happened to Jeff this morning & would like to ask our loyal patrons to give us some time to grieve privately …,” a message posted on the nightclub’s Facebook page stated.

Many believe that this incident may have stemmed from a prior run-in between Coats and some gang affiliates that took place earlier this month at the nightclub. Coats had extensively lamented the actions of those persons at the club, which, according to Coats, had resulted in injuries to one person on September 17.

“Right now I sit here still finding another man’s [blood] … I’ve never met before, blood all over me … For just running an amazing club and guys making stupid life-changing choices …,” Coats had said in frustration. Shortly after, the club put in place enhanced security measures: allowing fewer people inside the establishment, opening an exit door, and discontinuing the serving of bottled drinks.

Coats, in his post on the nightclub’s Facebook page, had further said, “It is my hope that those who made poor choices inside our place don’t affect your choice to share time with us.”

There is no indication at this time who were the persons who had caused the turmoil in the nightclub on that night or if they are in custody, but all indications at this time point to those persons as prime suspects.

Coats, who had made Belize his second home, was a real estate broker and author of a life skills book titled Res3t. He offered an online course on changing one’s mindset, setting goals, and taking action. Thousands of people have reportedly viewed or used his content, or participated in his 7-day course.

“It’s frustrating to be so kind to people, try to be 100% dedicated to having good security for people to have a safe place to hang out and enjoy good music with their family and friends, and to invest my time and money to try and make so many happy… I truly appreciate the many, many people who come see us loyally and for the first time … For those of you who saw me walk him out, I’m sorry you had to see something like that …,” Coats had commented in his post

At the age of 14, Coats was tried for the robbery and attempted murder of David Grenier in Tacoma, Washington, after he kidnapped Grenier and stole his BMW. Twenty years after the crime, Coats’ story of reformation was used as a sociological case study for a reconsideration of criminal rehabilitation in America.

Before coming to Belize and settling down as a nightclub owner, he was an advocate for reform, and an avid speaker on rehabilitation, who told his own story, in addition to being a real estate broker. The 42-year-old American is the latest foreign businessman to be killed in Belize.

“Thanks for all the condolences & well wishes,” the post from Replay Night Club stated yesterday. “We really appreciate it. We will be closed until further notice. Thanks, Management,” the post further said.

The Mayor of San Ignacio, Earl Trapp, in his comments on the tragedy, said, “It has been knocking very hard on our door. San Ignacio, Santa Elena has been known as a safe haven, one of the safest municipality in the country of Belize, but for some reason, for some unforeseen circumstances, things have been happening over the past few weeks.”

Trapp further stated that he knew Coats for about three years. He said that Coats gave back to the community in a number of ways—including the hiring of youths and the spearheading of mural-painting projects in the town—and had recently visited the Mayor’s office to get an extension for his business.

“He was a very caring and sharing person, and someone with a big heart and a goal to build up his business, and like I said, someone that help the community through job creation,” Mayor Trapp said.