The would-be killer who allegedly pulled a gun on Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had hidden 100 bullets in his home when police raided it in the wake of the shock attack.
Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian, was taken into custody after he was caught in Fernandez de Kirchner’s face with the loaded gun in front of her home in Buenos Aires on Thursday night.
The suspect pulled the trigger on the Argentina-made 32-caliber Bersa 380 pistol, but it did not resolve, officials say.
“A man pointed a gun at her head and fired. Cristina is alive for a technical reason as yet unclear. The gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire even though the trigger was pulled,” President Alberto Fernandez said.
When officers later raided Montiel’s home, they discovered his huge stash of bullets, police sources told local newspaper La Nacion.
Montiel, who had previously been charged with possession of a knife last year, had rented rooms all over Buenos Aires and worked as a driver leading up to the attack, the sources added.
Authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the failed assassination attempt on Fernandez de Kirchner – which has long been divisive in Argentina and is currently facing possible corruption charges.
Fernandez de Kirchner, who has not yet spoken publicly about the ordeal, was pictured on Friday emerging from her home waving to supporters after a visit from President Fernandez.
The vice president was surrounded by security personnel and was in close contact with the hundreds of supporters who had gathered near her home when the assassination attempt took place at about 9 p.m. Thursday.
Footage showed the attacker pushing through the crowd and entering Fernandez de Kirchner’s feet before brandishing the gun at her face. The veep could be seen crouching and covering her face with her hands as the suspect was quickly bundled away.
The weapon was found a few yards away, police said.
Politicians from all sides in Argentina were quick to condemn the attack, which unfolded as political tensions continue to mount in the country amid an ongoing economic crisis driven by debt and inflation.
“This is the most serious event we have seen since Argentina returned to democracy,” President Fernandez said in a televised address, referring to the end of military rule in 1983.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement on Friday condemning the attack, saying: “We stand with the Argentine government and the people in rejecting violence and hatred.”
Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Pichetto, a prominent lawmaker, quickly called for an investigation into how the suspect was even able to approach the vice president when she returned to her home.
“There needs to be an investigation into how this topic got so close. What happened to her safety?” Pichetto told the TN local television channel. “You have to evaluate why she was so alone at the time, that the person could almost come face to face.”
Crowds have gathered daily outside Fernandez de Kirchner’s home amid the ongoing corruption investigation she faces over an alleged plan to divert public funds while she was president between 2007 and 2015.
A prosecutor last month demanded that Fernandez de Kirchnera – who has denied any allegations – be given a 12-year prison sentence.
With Post wires