SANTIAGO – Two young men who took part Thursday in a student march in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso were shot and killed by an individual who was apparently angry that they had vandalized his home, police said.
The victims, aged 18 and 25, were spray-painting the door of a house at the end of the demonstration when the owner realized what they were doing and began arguing with them, according to the preliminary investigation.
Several witnesses said the homeowner’s son then went out on the street with a gun and fired the deadly shots.
One of the victims was shot in the neck and the other in the chest; both were rushed to Carlos Van Buren Hospital in Valparaiso, but emergency responders were unable to save them.
The suspect is a 20-year-old man who has already been taken into custody and was due to be questioned on Thursday.
Interior Minister Jorge Burgos, for his part, condemned the double homicide and said a special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate.
“The government does not and will not tolerate actions of this nature that endanger lives,” Burgos said, adding that the preliminary investigation indicates the suspect had no ties to the police who were monitoring the demonstration.
Different hypotheses have been offered for the deadly violence but none justify the reaction of the gunman, who acted in an “absolutely disproportionate” manner, the minister said.
The killings occurred near Valparaiso’s Plaza Victoria after the two men had taken part in one of several multi-city demonstrations organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students, or Confech.