An elderly American has been arrested after a gunman was caught on camera walking up to environmental protesters blocking a Panamanian highway Tuesday and blasting two of them to death.
Disturbing footage showed a man with gray hair and glasses casually approaching the blockade on the Pan-American Highway and waving his finger while arguing with the demonstrators — before pulling out a gun and opening fire.
Other footage showed people standing around bodies in the road in the Chame sector west of Panama City as well as the gunman being cuffed and led to a squad car.
Police later shared a photo of the suspect handcuffed to a pipe as he was identified as Kenneth Darlington, 77, a lawyer and professor who holds dual citizenship in the US and Panama, according to Newsroom Panama and Agence France-Presse.
One of the shot protesters died at the scene while the second was pronounced dead at a local hospital, AFP said.
The violence came during the third week of protests over a large mining contract that allows Canada-based First Quantum Minerals to operate the region’s largest pit copper mine for at least 20 more years.
The roadblocks have caused up to $80 million in daily losses to businesses and have shuttered schools nationwide for more than a week.
Panama President Laurentino Cortizo sent his condolences to the dead protesters’ families, saying that such a crime “has no place” in his nation’s supportive society.
The deadly shooting came after Panamanian media reported that a demonstrator was run over and killed last week by a foreigner attempting to drive past a roadblock.
The 19,000-mile Pan-American Highway is the world’s largest route, spanning from Alaska to Argentina with a break in the Darién Gap.
With Post wires