Policeman hacked by machete, and assailant killed

Fuerza Pública officers tried to arrest a man who has been terrorizing his neighborhood near Cóbano Thursday, but the man rushed one officer and slashed him with a machete. Then the assailant died as a result of police bullets.

The police officer, identified as Roy Valladares Fuentes, 32, suffered a severe wound on the right arm, so much so that officials fear he might lose it. They took him from Cóbano to Hospital México in San José by security ministry helicopter.

The dead man was Santos Vásquez Gómez who tried to drown a policemen in a nearby river several months ago, the security ministry said. He had a history of violent behavior and spent time in a psychiatric clinic in Pavas, they added. Fuerza Pública officials said they had been getting complaints from residents of the area called Río Frío some 30 kilometers from the center of Cóbano that the man was acting in a threatening manner. One of the complaints came from the local school director, officials said.

So Thursday Héctor Murillo, the chief of the local Fuerza Pública detachment, other officers and a traffic policeman went to the area to check out the situation, officers said. Included was Valladares.

When Vásquez noticed the presence of police, he rushed Valladares and slashed at his arm. Officials did not say exactly who shot the man.

The Judicial Investigating Organization is involved now in the case. The security ministery characterized the shooting as self defense. But an investigation is always conducted in such cases.

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