SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC- Orlando Jorge Mera, the minister of the environment and natural resources in the Dominican Republic, was fatally shot by a close friend in his office on Monday, the office of the president said in a statement.
The authorities said Jorge Mera was shot by Fausto Miguel de Jesus Cruz de la Mota, who was apprehended hours later at a church after telling a priest he had committed a crime and handed him a gun.
Officials did not disclose a motive for the shooting, nor was it immediately known if the 56-year-old Cruz had an attorney.
“We express our deepest condolences,” the office of President Luis Abinader said.
People on the street yelled as shots rang out early Monday, taking cover as those fleeing the building climbed over a tall fence after first throwing over purses, backpacks, and even shoes because the building’s main gates were locked.
As authorities said, Cruz talked on the phone with them while at the church and promised to turn himself in if he wouldn’t be killed.
He was arrested by heavily armed police at the church, which is about a 15-minute drive from the office where Jorge Mera was shot.
Cruz was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest when he was brought out and kept his head mostly down as his glasses slid down his nose. One bystander yelled: “You killed a good man! Murderer!”
Orlando Jorge Mera hails from a family of powerful politicians. He was the son of former Dominican president, Salvador Jorge Blanco, and his sister serves in Abinader’s administration as a vice minister. Jose Mera’s son is a lawmaker for the Modern Revolutionary Party, of which he (Jorge Mera ) was a founding member.
In a statement, the family said that Cruz had been Jorge’s friend since childhood and that Jorge was shot multiple times.
“Our family forgives the person who did this. One of Orlando’s greatest legacies was to not hold grudges,” it said.
In the capital of Santo Domingo, mourners gathered nearby, as police and emergency personnel swarmed the office of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry.
In the same building that houses the Ministry of Tourism, Jorge Mera’s office is located on the fourth floor.
“We are troubled by the situation,” Jorge Mera’s ministry said in a brief statement.
Bartolomé Pujals, executive director of the government’s Cabinet of Innovation, wrote that he lamented the killing.
“His death is a tragedy,” Pujals said. “We Dominicans have to come together to achieve a pact for peace and peaceful coexistence. No more violence.”
In August 2020, Orlando Jorge Mera, a lawyer, was appointed minister of the environment and natural resources.