Bullet that killed guard traced to tactical squad weapons

Graphic: Judicial Investigating Organization

Investigators have concluded that a La Reforma guard who died during a breakout attempt May 11 received a bullet wound from a tactical squad weapon.

That was the highlight of a report by the Judicial Investigating Organization that has been piecing together what transpired during the critical confrontation between tactical squads and prisons shielded by hostages. The report was released Wednesday.

There were nine prisoners trying to flee the maximum security section of the San Rafael de Alajuela prison. They had 15 hostages. As they made their way to the prison armory, they were trapped by a unit of the Servicio Especial de Respuesta Táctica of the security ministry, a unit of Unidad Especializada de Intervención of the Ministerio de Presidencia and a group of a half dozen prison guards.

Francis Morales Fallas was the guard who died. He is believed to have been shot by a security ministry weapon.
Jhonny Rodríguez and Erlyn Hurtado Martínez were the two prisoners who died, and Carlos Aguiero Sánchez, another prisoner, was wounded in the confrontation.

Prisoners had two firearms, a 380 automatic and a 9-mm. pistol plus and assortment of knives. They also had fragmentation grenades that were not triggered. Immediately after the shootout, investigators confiscated all the weapons. The subsequent investigation has been elaborate.

Prisoners had surrounded themselves with hostages.

A number of persons inside and outside law enforcement have been critical of the what transpired. Some blame the tactical squads for shooting too quickly. Some say more negotiations should have been attempted.

Agents have another investigation under way as a result of the prison break. One of the ring leaders who survived died a few days later, and evidence suggests that guards subjected him to a brutal beating. Some 10 guards have been suspended.

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