TSR Updatez: Two men believed to be Haitian Americans have been arrested in connection to the assassination of Haiti’s president along with a group of alleged retired members of the Colombian military.
James Solages and Joseph Vincent of Florida were among 17 suspects detained in the violent slaying of President Jovenel Moise, who was gunned down in his home in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
In addition to the 17 in custody, Chief of Haiti’s National Police Leon Charles says three other suspects were killed by police and eight are on the run–bringing the total number of suspects believed to be involved in Moise’s assassination to 28.
“We are going to bring them to justice,” he said as the 17 suspects sat handcuffed on the floor during a press conference Thursday night.
Also late Thursday, Colombia’s government said six of the suspects in Haiti, including two of those killed, were retired members of Colombia’s army, but Colombian officials did not release their identities.
The oldest suspect is 55 and the youngest, Solages, is 35, according to a document that was shared by Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s minister of elections.
Solages described himself as a “certified diplomatic agent,” an advocate for children, and a budding politician on a website for a charity he established in 2019 in south Florida to assist residents.
Solages claims he also previously worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, according to the bio page for the charity, but the Canadian Embassy did not immediately comment.
Moise’s death has left his country in violent turmoil.
Witnesses told reporters two suspects were discovered Thursday hiding in bushes in Port-au-Prince by a crowd, some of whom grabbed the men by their shirts and pants, pushing them and occasionally slapping them.
Police arrested the men, who were sweating heavily and wearing clothes that seemed to be smeared with mud, according to an Associated Press journalist. Officers put the suspects in the back of a pickup truck and drove away as the crowd ran after them to the nearby police station.
While at the station, some in the crowd chanted: “They killed the president! Give them to us. We’re going to burn them!”
The crowd later set fire to several abandoned cars that were riddled with bullet holes. The cars were believed to belong to the suspects, who were white men. The cars didn’t have license plates, and inside one of them was an empty box of bullets and some water, according to the AP.
Officials have not addressed a motive for the assassination, saying only that the attack, condemned by Haiti’s main opposition parties and the international community, was carried out by “a highly trained and heavily armed group.”
We’ll keep you posted on any updates.