The would-be assassin who allegedly pulled a gun on Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had 100 bullets stashed in his home when police raided it in the wake of the shock attack.
Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian, was taken into custody after he was caught on camera pointing the loaded gun in Fernandez de Kirchner’s face outside her Buenos Aires home Thursday night.
The suspect pulled the trigger of the Argentine-made 32-caliber Bersa 380 pistol but it failed to discharge, according to officials.
“A man pointed a gun at his head and fired. Cristina’s alive for a technical reason as yet unclear. The gun, which had five bullets in it, did not go off even though the trigger was pulled,” President Alberto Fernandez said.
When cops later raided Montiel’s residence, they uncovered his huge stash of bullets, police sources told local newspaper La Nacion.
Montiel, who had previously been cited for possession of a knife last year, had been renting rooms throughout Buenos Aires and working as a driver in the lead up to the attack, the sources added.
Authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the failed assassination attempt on Fernandez de Kirchner — who has long been a divisive figure in Argentina and is currently facing potential corruption charges.
Fernandez de Kirchner, who has yet to speak publicly about the ordeal, was pictured emerging from her home and waving to supporters on Friday after a visit from President Fernandez.
The vice president had been surrounded by security personnel and was interacting closely with the hundreds of supporters gathered near his home when the assassination attempt unfolded at about 9 pm Thursday.
Footage showed the attacker pushing through the crowd and getting within feet of Fernandez de Kirchner before waving the gun in her face. The veep could be seen crouching down and covering her face with her hands as the suspect was quickly bundled away.
The gun was found a few meters away, police said.
Politicians on all sides in Argentina were quick to condemn the attack, which unfolded as political tensions continue to rise in the country amid an ongoing economic crisis driven by debt and inflation.
“This is the most serious event we have gone through since Argentina returned to democracy,” President Fernandez said in a televised address, referring to the 1983 end of military rule.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement Friday condemning the attack, saying, “We stand with the Argentine government and people in rejecting violence and hate.”
Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Pichetto, a prominent lawmaker, quickly called for an investigation into how the suspect was even able to approach the vice president as she returned to her home.
“There needs to be an investigation into how this subject got so close. What happened to her security?” Pichetto told the TN local television outlet. “You have to evaluate why she was so alone at that moment, that the person could get almost face to face.”
Crowds have been gathering outside Fernandez de Kirchner’s home daily amid the ongoing corruption probe she is facing over an alleged scheme to entertain public funds while she was president between 2007 and 2015.
A prosecutor last month called for Fernandez de Kirchnera — who has denied any wrongdoing — to be given a 12-year prison sentence.
With post wires