A man was arrested after he aimed a loaded handgun at point-blank range toward Argentinian Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner outside her home.
Terrifying footage shows Fernández, 69, surrounded by supporters when a man suddenly pointed and shot a pistol at her head as she got out of her car on Thursday evening.
The politician quickly ducked out of the way after the weapon was fired in her face – as others in the crowd looked around horror in during the scenes in Recoleta, Buenos Aires.
Suspect Fernando Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian man, was arrested following the assassination attempt. He has a previous criminal record for carrying weapons, government officials confirmed.
The gun was a Bersa .04 caliber – and it was loaded with five bullets when Montiel pulled the trigger at the Vice President. It’s unclear why the gun did not fire.
The Vice President’s home has been mobbed with protesters and supporters in recent days, after she was accused of defrauding the state. Last week she was forced to order demonstrators to scatter after her property was ‘besieged.’
Security Minister Aníbal Fernández told local cable news channel C5N: ‘A person who was identified by those who were close to him who had a gun was detained by security personnel.
‘They set him aside, found the weapon, and now it must be analyzed.’
Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández had a gun held in her face as she got out of a car
A 35-year-old has been arrested after the gun was pointed at the Vice President’s face
The gun was held straight in the politician’s face. It appears that the suspect pulled the trigger at the Vice President, but she was not hurt
The gunman was named as 35-year-old Brazilian man Fernando Montiel. Security Minister Aníbal Fernández said: ‘They set him aside, found the weapon, and now it must be analyzed’
Montiel was arrested after allegedly holding the handgun at the politician’s face outside her home on Thursday night
Police officers stand guard outside the house of Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner after she was attacked by an unidentified assailant with a gun
Montiel was arrested on a gun possession charge. He told police he had it for self defense.
Clips of the moment posted on social media show the pistol almost touching Fernández’ face – who was smiling at the crowds before she realized that she was under threat.
Speaking tonight, President Alberto Fernández said in a speech: ‘Dear Argentine people, shortly after 9pm, a man made an attempt on the life of the vice president of the nation. It is a very serious incident.
‘It is the most serious that has happened since the recovery of democracy. In front of a massive presence of people, a man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger.
‘Cristina remains alive because, for some reason, the weapon that had five bullets did not fire despite having been triggered.’
The President added: ‘Such a reality affects the Argentine people and in particular those of us who are her colleagues, who embrace her in solidarity with all our love.
‘This attack deserves the strongest repudiation from all political sectors, from all the men and women who make up the republic. This incident affects our democracy.’
This comes after Fernandez de Kirchner asked her supporters to halt a protest on Saturday, while defending their right to demonstrate, after prosecutors requested a 12-year prison sentence for alleged corruption.
After a tense day in which thousands took to the streets to defend her and two were detained in clashes that injured seven police officers, Fernandez de Kirchner gave a brief evening speech on a makeshift stage in front of her house on Saturday.
‘In a democracy, the right to freedom of expression is fundamental,’ she said. ‘I want to say thank you and to ask you to go get some rest. It’s been a long day.’
Prosecutors accused Fernandez de Kirchner of defrauding the state and involvement in a scheme to divert public funds while president between 2007 and 2015.
The largest demonstration of her supporters took place outside the vice president’s home in Recoleta, where in the early morning hours police had set up fences in an effort to prevent a large gathering.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner smiled at the crowds of supporters before she realized that there was a gun being held in her face
This comes after Fernandez de Kirchner asked her supporters to halt a protest on Saturday
A police officer stands guard as a member of a forensic team works near the house of Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner after she was attacked
In the afternoon, the demonstrators, who claim that Fernandez de Kirchner is the victim of judicial persecution and that the fences were erected by Buenos Aires’ opposition mayor as a provocation, tore down the barriers and clashed with police. Hydrant trucks tried to disperse the crowds with water.
‘Today I woke up with the corner of my house literally besieged,’ Fernandez de Kirchner said in a tweet. ‘They want to ban demonstrations of love and support that are absolutely peaceful and joyful, which are taking place in the face of the judiciary’s already undeniable persecution.’
As a sign of support, President Alberto Fernandez later took to Twitter to criticize ‘the institutional violence unleashed by the city government.’
Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta justified the placement of fences and the actions of the police, telling a news conference that ‘the demonstration turned into a situation of violence.’
Fernandez de Kirchner leads the most hardline wing of the center-left Peronist coalition that has governed Argentina since the end of 2019.
The verdict and any potential sentence will be decided by a judge, which could take months, though Fernandez de Kirchner could appeal any decision, possibly delaying a final verdict for years