Salt Lake murder suspect a familiar face in Belize
Jules Vasquez recognized the man in the photograph right away.
"It's Big Tom," he said. "Absolutely, 100 percent."
Kenneth Lewellyn Flowers, 33, sits in Salt Lake County Jail, charged with shooting and killing a man in a Main Street apartment on Dec. 18.
Prosecutors have also charged him with being a restricted person in possession of a firearm, because he was twice been deported to Belize.
That's how Vasquez, a reporter in Belize City, recognized him. For the better part of a decade, Kenneth "Big Tom" Flowers was known as an enforcer for a once-prominent Belizean street gang a usual suspect for police officers, someone who knew about life on both sides of the gun.
"He was notorious," said Vasquez, who has covered the city's gang problems for 7 News in Belize. "I knew him as a hitman. He was a gun for hire."
In 2002, Flowers was shot in the chest but refused to cooperate with police in an investigation, according to Belizean media reports. He was charged with shooting and killing a man in front of a mechanic's shop just two days later, though he was never convicted on the charge.
Flowers has twice been deported from the United States. In 2001, he claimed to be a U.S. Citizen at a San Diego port of entry and was detained, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice. In 2006, Flowers was again deported after being jailed on local charges, Kice said. A search of court records shows Flowers was cited in August 2006 for not having a valid license and giving false information to a police officer.
In November 2006, as tensions between rival gangs escalated, Flowers was arrested on drug and weapons charges, according to local media reports. Less than a month later, he was shot in the back and both legs by a rival street gang leader.
Since then, Flowers' gang, known as the Back-A-Town Crew, has seen its prominence diminished. Flowers, who once told reporters he had been shot eight times, said he was turning over a new leaf.
"He tried to become a car dealer and had left that life behind," Vasquez said. "Then he disappeared."
Flowers' name resurfaced in Belize earlier this year, when multiple media outlets reported he had been shot and killed in Utah. In actuality, Flowers was shot three times in the head, shoulder and hand during an April 19 fight in Murray, but was not fatally wounded, according to charges filed in 3rd District Court.
"They weren't life-threatening," Murray Police detective Kenny Bass said of Flowers' wounds. "He was up, talking to police right after."
On Dec. 18, police said Flowers was on the other side of a gun.
After spending a day smoking crack at Terrace Apartments, 1810 S. Main St., Flowers shot and killed 45-year-old Cisco M. Cross, according to jail and court documents. Flowers became alarmed when two men entered the apartment and believed Cross had set him up to be killed, according to a jail probable cause statement.
He is being held in Salt Lake County Jail with bail set at $1 million.