SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor called an emergency meeting Tuesday after six people were killed in a mass shooting in a San Juan housing project and gunfire left two people dead a day earlier in the island’s north.
Automatic weapon fire and screams could be heard in videos circulating on social media of Monday’s shootout at the Río Piedras project. A police statement said the violence left five men and one woman dead. It followed the killing of two people Sunday in the city of Guaynabo.
The brazen murders led Gov. Wanda Vázquez to convene a gathering of her security team, led by public security chief Elmer Román and justice secretary Dennise Longo Quiñones.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Román said the National Guard would not be activated because a police reform requires officers to have training that Guard members don’t have. He said increased air and land patrols were discussed, along with reinforcing social programs.
“We’re going to see more patrols while this case is clarified,” he said. “There will be security and control.”
Officials said a patrol assigned to the Rio Piedras residence was not there at the time of Monday’s shooting but at a nearby housing project.
The justice secretary said three prosecutors had been sent to the scene.
“This is a complex crime scene,” Longo said. “We need the time and space to carry out an exhaustive and thoughtful investigation.”
The spate of crimes adds to Puerto Rico’s problems, which include a prolonged recession, a devastating hurricane in 2017 and a political crisis that led to the ousting of the island’s governor.
According to Puerto Rico’s police, there have been 129 murders in the capital so far this year compared to 106 over the same period last year.