Chilean residents are angry over the killing of a boy during a police confrontation with a notorious drug gang in the southern city of Puerto Montt on Thursday.
Family members say that the boy, named Alvaro, was sitting on the curb when the police fired into the crowd. Authorities say they were aiming at the suspect’s girlfriend. Neither of the people appear to have been injured in the exchange.
President Sebastian Pinera said in a statement that he was disturbed by the murder and calls for justice.
“With these recent events, I am convinced that people are more polarized and enemies of the state are built up as opponents of the president,” he said.
On Thursday, the streets of Puerto Montt were partially reopened to traffic after what police described as a peaceful day of protests.
“The police killed a 4-year-old boy,” resident Diego Pelaez told el Mercurio newspaper. “It’s incredible. It’s like something out of a movie. I know no one has the right to do this to an innocent kid, but if we don’t stop the violence there will be even more innocent victims.”
The confrontation between police and drug gang members stems from the manhunt for Omar Canton, a Los Angeles-raised drug lord who allegedly had links to notorious cartel leader Dario “El Grande” Juarez.
Juarez was in charge of the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico.
In recent years, Juarez made his home in Puerto Montt, in the Atacama Desert, but was captured in September. Juarez is accused of murder, kidnapping and torture, among other crimes.
In its investigation into Juarez’s whereabouts, the attorney general’s office in Chile arrested two youths linked to the drug gang this summer. Police received intelligence that Juarez’s operations had reached Puerto Montt.