Three members of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) were killed Monday morning at the hands of a colleague, Officer Guarionex Candelario.
Candelario, who had worked for the department for 19 years, arrived armed at the main police department in Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, reported the island newspaper El Nuevo Día. He went to the sixth floor of the department, where he confronted Commander Frank Román Rodríguez, a 49-year old who served more than half his life in the police force and who was the third-highest ranking police official in Ponce.
Candelario allegedly ordered Román to move to the office of Lieutenant Luz Soto, who was the administrative chief of the command and, reportedly, Candelario’s direct supervisor.
Candelario is then alleged to have proceeded to the office of Officer Rosario Hernández de Hoyo, compelling her to remain in the same office as Román and Soto, creating a hostage situation. With all three of his victims trapped in an office, he ordered Lieutenant Soto to call the media. Whoever was on the receiving end reports having heard gunshots.
Police and government officials were quick to emit official announcements about the killing. The PRPD was updating its Facebook page and Twitter account throughout the day and information about the victims’ work records and expected promotions (Soto, for example, had recently been approved to take the exam that would result in promotion to captain) were released.
Víctimas: Comandante Frank Román Rodríguez, la Teniente Luz M. Soto Segarra y la Agente Rosario Hernández de Hoyos pic.twitter.com/0mPLHcK9Yv
— Policía Puerto Rico (@PRPDNoticias) December 28, 2015
What was not immediately apparent, however, was a motive. Candelario was reported to have had “emotional and conduct problems” that resulted in the temporary seizure of his service firearm, but had undergone subsequent psychological testing and his firearm-carrying privilege had been restored. There was no speculation in local media about a motive.
Meanwhile, Governor Alejandro García Padilla ordered a national day of mourning and flags were lowered to half-mast.