Suspect in custody in Ponce police slaying

By John McPhaul

The Puerto Rico Police reported on Thursday that they arrested a suspect in the slaying of police officer Erasmo García Torres, who died after being shot during a noon-time intervention in Ponce at the intersection of Venus and Villa streets.

García Torres, 50, died at Damas Hospital where he was taken by patrol car after sustaining two gunshot wounds during an otherwise routine traffic stop.

One civilian was also wounded during the incident.

The authorities did not immediately release the identity of the suspect. Police were on the trail of two individuals who were driving a wine-colored Hyundai Brio with license plate number GSP 971.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said following the suspect’s arrest that “This crime will not go unpunished.”

“The Puerto Rico Police and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety acted swiftly and effectively to clear up this murder,” the governor said. “There will be justice for our fallen hero, Agent Erasmo García Torres. RIP.”

García Torres was the fourth policeman killed in the line of duty this year in Puerto Rico.

Earlier in the day, Pierluisi said of the slaying: “Today once again, a Puerto Rican family mourns the loss of a hero.”

“All our people are united in the pain caused by this vile murder of a policeman in the line of duty,” the governor said via Twitter. “In the war against crime, we will always be united.”

The governor added that “We will not rest and we will use all the resources at our disposal to bring justice to this fallen policeman, to his family and to all Puerto Ricans.”

Police Commissioner Col. Antonio López Figueroa lamented the killing of García Torres, who would have completed 30 years on the force on June 18. García Torres worked in the Ponce Motorized Unit.

“The death of Erasmo García Torres hurts us deeply because when they kill one of my policemen, they kill a brother, a friend, a loved one, and part of our being is torn from us,” López Figueroa said in a written statement. “To his family, our total solidarity and wishes for strength in this process. Let them know that we will be with them.”

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