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Perfil

ARGENTINA | 16-12-2019 07:00

Arrests after two British tourists shot, one killed, in Puerto Madero

50-year-old dies, hours after being shot by robbers while resisting attack. His 28-year-old stepson in serious condition after being shot in leg. Police make four arrests, with more suspects still at large.

Two tourists were robbed and shot outside the five-star Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero on Saturday, in dramatic scenes captured on camera. One, identified as a 50-year-old British tourist, later died after succumbing to his injuries.

Police confirmed Sunday that four Argentines have now been arrested in a series of raids after the attack, in which Matthew Gibbard died after trying to fight off armed robbers. His stepson, Stefan Zone, was injured in the shooting.

Officers are still said to be hunting other suspects, though they confirmed the motorbike used in attack had also been seized. The Associated Press later reported that officials confirmed they were searching for a fifth suspect.

The attack took place at around 11am Saturday morning. Officials said in a statement that assailants on a motorcycle tried to steal the belongings of the tourists, according to the Télam state news agency, just metres from the top-range hotel. From security footage, it appears there was another car, a red Ford Fiesta, involved. 

According to local reports, one of the men now being detained is the owner of the car.

Over the weekend, President Alberto Fernandez described the murder as "atrocious" and urged the police to be "inflexible" in the hunt for the culprits.  

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: "We are supporting the family of two British men following an incident in Buenos Aires, and are in contact with the local authorities there."

The British Embassy confirmed it was supporting its countrymen. Ambassador to Argentina Mark Kent, who was travelling to Britain at the time of the attack, later tweeted out a message expressing his dismay at the incident, expressing his commiserations to the family.

Attack

The attack took place close to the hotel.

Gibbard, 50, was shot as he and his stepson approached the hotel in Puerto Madero. His stepson, a 28-year-old Briton, suffered a gunshot wound. 

The duo resisted the attack when the perpetrators attempted to steal their baggage and personal effects, video camera footage shows. As the struggle continued, one of the robbers pulled and fired a gun, shooting the father in his chest and armpit and the son in the thigh. 

Two assailants then escaped on a motorcycle. 

Speaking to local outlets, Alberto Crescenti, the chief of the ambulance service in Buenos Aires City, said the emergency call was received at 11.04am. When paramedics arrived, Crescenti said, they found Gibbard had been struck in the right armpit.

Medics believe the bullet likely continued through his chest, where it caused his heart to stop and possibly penetrated his lung.

Gibbard, identified in UK media outlets as "a British millionaire," was brought to Argerich Hospital. Crescenti described his condition as "grave" due to "major blood loss," and said that at around 2pm. he was declared dead in the middle of surgery. 

Zone, Gibbard's 28-year-old stepson, was brought to the same hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to the thigh. He remains in a serious condition. The bullet was said to have just missed his femoral artery.  

Followed

Authorities told Perfil that security image analysis shows the family were followed by the suspects from the moment they left the Ezeiza international airport, where they had entered the country that morning.

Authorities also said that this tactic — tourists being followed from the airport and targeted as they try to enter hotels — has been used more regularly in recent months. 

The assault will be investigated by National Prosecutor in Criminal and Correctional 32, led by Ana Yacobuci, who already worked with the City police to get the security camera footage. 

Justice and Security Secretary for the City government, Marcelo D'Alessandro said more than a dozen searches had been carried out in Buenos Aires in the search for the suspects.

The attack against the British tourist joins a growing list of violent robberies against those visiting Argentina. They often start with attempted robbery and end with more serious injuries or fatalities when the victim tries to resist. 

More than 111,000 British nationals visited Argentina in 2018, according to the British Foreign Office, which described most visits are '"trouble free." It does, however, advise visitors to take care over street crime and to hand over cash and valuables without resistance. if attacked.

Eduardo Scarzello, a senior security official, confirmed the gang involved in Gibbard's death had operated at Ezeiza international airport, identifying wealthy tourists and following them to their destinations in order to rob them.

 – TIMES/PERFIL

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