Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Fugitive police officer in shoot-out with special forces

Published:Tuesday | January 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this July 13, 2017 file photo, Oscar Perez speaks to the press at a night vigil to honor the more than 90 people killed during three months of anti-government protests, in Caracas, Venezuela.

CARACAS (AP):

Venezuelan special forces exchanged gunfire yesterday with a rebellious police officer who has been on the run since leading a high-profile attack in Caracas last year, officials said.

Holed up in a village outside the capital, Oscar Perez fired on special forces, according to socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello, who said that Perez and his group killed one officer and injured 10.

"The terrorist, Oscar Perez, attacked those around him," Cabello said on Twitter. "Security forces returned fire."

Perez, 36, posted video clips of himself hunkered down inside a building. The videos shared on social media show a bloodied Perez shouting at the camera as the sound of gunfire rings in the background. Perez said special forces wished to kill him instead of allowing his surrender.

"We're going to turn ourselves in," Perez shouts. "They don't want to let us surrender. They want to kill us."

Perez led a July attack with a stolen police helicopter lobbing grenades at the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry in Caracas. Nobody was injured, and Perez had remained a wanted fugitive.

In addition to being a trained officer, Perez is an actor, pilot and dog trainer. Many within Venezuela have cast doubt on the legitimacy of his attacks, seeing them as a potential ruse to support President Nicolas Maduro's assertion that the nation is regularly assaulted by opposition conspirators, though some friends have spoken in his defence.

Perez appeared in online videos in December showing him and a small armed band taking over a small military outpost and smashing a portrait of Maduro with his foot.

Perez and the assailants berated several detained guardsmen for doing nothing to help their fellow citizens suffering from hunger. Maduro responded in the following days, vowing to meet Perez with bullets.