SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The man being sought in the killing of three police officers is the person recently found shot to death with a cardboard sign on his chest declaring him guilty, Puerto Rican authorities announced Wednesday.
Officials said they did not yet know who fatally shot the suspect, identified as 25-year-old David Rivera Bátiz. They said his death was being investigated as a possible street justice killing.
“Police don’t have anything to do with the murder of this individual,” Antonio López Figueroa, the designated police commissioner, said in response to questions during a news conference.
The suspect’s body was found near a sprawling public housing complex in the popular tourist district of Isla Verde that authorities had been combing since the three officers were killed Monday.
The deaths of state officer Luis Marrero Díaz and municipal officers Luis Salamán Conde and Eliezer Hernández Cartagena shocked the U.S. territory, where such slayings are rare. Police spokesman José Catalano told The Associated Press on Monday that two of the officers were fatally shot and the third was run over.
López said Rivera was from the southern coastal city of Ponce and was suspected in several unrelated killings that occurred there.
The three police officers were slain while involved in a case that began Monday afternoon in the northern city of Carolina, just east of the capital of San Juan.
López said Rivera was initially involved in a car accident and pulled out a rifle when police arrived.
“Without saying a word, he starts shooting,” López said.
Rivera then tried to steal the motorcycle of one officer, but he failed and shot the officer, who was lying on the ground, López said. Rivera next hijacked a car from a civilian to get away and headed to Isla Verde, where he shot at officers waiting for him and then ran into a nearby public housing complex to hide, López said.
His body was found before dawn Tuesday at a street corner on the other side of the highway from the housing complex. Authorities said the sign left on the body read: “I am responsible for the killing of the policeman(men). Here it is.”
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