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Mon Jan 14, 2019, 08:46 AM

A Wave of Violent Daytime Killings Has Puerto Rico on Edge

Source: New York Times

A Wave of Violent Daytime Killings Has Puerto Rico on Edge

By Alejandra Rosa and Frances Robles
Jan. 13, 2019

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Puerto Rico has long had one of the highest murder rates in the country, almost all of it attributable to gang violence. But a recent spree of brazen daylight killings, some of which were captured on video and widely shared on social media, have shaken the population and worried local and federal law enforcement officials who thought they had seen everything in the roiling, populous city of San Juan.

On Jan. 6, several men engaged in a morning shootout on the service road of a major thoroughfare in Isla Verde, near the airport, leaving one man dead. On Wednesday morning, a gas station security camera in Dorado captured a gunman in a ski mask who calmly walked up to a Honda, fired at its driver and left. On Thursday, Kevin Fret, an openly gay musician with a large social media following, was gunned down as he rode a motorbike before dawn in San Juan.

The case that barely made the news: A 10-year-old boy had been shot in Coamo the night before.

With headlines reporting that 22 people had already lost their lives violently in the first few weeks of 2019, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló convened a meeting of the heads of all the commonwealth and federal law enforcement agencies, who promised a crackdown. The public safety secretary dismissed the notion of a crime wave, even as police associations were calling for his ouster.

Puerto Rico, in the wake of bankruptcy and the devastation of Hurricane Maria, is enduring a sinking economy and a mass exodus. And while the murder rate is far lower than it was at its peak seven years ago, the decline offers little consolation when nearly 5,000 police officers have quit in the past few years and even a former police chief says she is afraid to leave her house after dark.

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Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/13/us/puerto-rico-crime-murders-violence.html

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