President decrees national mourning over deaths of teens

In an unusual decision, President Laura Chinchilla Miranda has decreed a period of national mourning from today through Saturday in response to the deaths of students in Orotina and in San Ramón. During this period the national flag will fly at half staff.

Four students died in San Ramón early Wednesday because a car ran into a group. In Orotina Monday a young man killed an 18-year-old student as he sat in a classroom. The motive was personal differences. Then the gunman gave himself a fatal bullet into his head.

Dead at the scene in the Orotina school was Juan Pablo Salazar Calderón. His assailant, Josué David Villegas Moya, died at Hospital México on his 18th birthday Tuesday.

The details of the San Ramón accident were contained in an updated article in Wednesday’s A.M. Costa Rica. The four high schoolers died after a motor vehicle ran into a group of pedestrians in the public right-of-way in the San Rafael section of San Ramón.

Three students died at the scene and one died later in Hospital México, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The youngsters were in the street participating in what police said was a traditional student serenada or serenade. Two other students were hurt badly, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The mishap took place about 4:30 a.m.

The vehicle involved overturned, and the driver fled the scene, said judicial police. The Poder Judicial said that a man identified by the last names of Chavarría Alvarado
surrendered himself later and was hospitalized. Police said he is 25 years old.

Dead at the scene were two young men and a minor girl. They were identified as Dennis Méndez Varela, Luis Alonso Solís Briceño and Angie Miranda Méndez by the judicial police. Dead at the hospital was Iván Elizondo Rodríguez.

Chavarría was in the Hospital de San Ramón and was being questioned by prosecutors late Wednesday afternoon. The Poder Judicial said that after questioning, prosecutors will decide if they will seek preventative detention of other measures in advance of filing a criminal case.

The presidential decree also said that there would be no festive activities of an official nature during the three days of mourning and that the government presents its most sincere condolences to the families of the students. The decree diplomatically did not state if the Orotina gunman was included in the mourning.

He appears to have created big questions as to his state of mind with postings he made on his Facebook page.

Such a decree of mourning over traffic accident victims and persons involved in a police case is highly unusual.

Ms. Chinchilla declared two days of national mourning last Nov. 5 when more than 20 persons died in an Escazú landslide.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez declared five days of national mourning after the $100 million Cinchona earthquake that killed nearly the same number in January 2009.

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