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Haitian lawmaker fires into crowd, wounds AP photographer and security agent

Jacqueline Charles and Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

A photojournalist with The Associated Press was among two people wounded Monday in Haiti when a senator opened fire in the yard of the Haitian Senate amid a chaotic scene involving another foiled vote to confirm the new prime minister.

Journalist Dieu-Nalio Chery was covering Monday morning's Senate ratification vote, along with other journalists, for nominated Prime Minister Fritz William Michel and his Cabinet when several shots were fired and a bullet hit Chery's face and another hit a security agent. Chery was taken to Bernard Mevs Hospital, where a surgeon told him to return Wednesday to remove the bullet from his jaw.

Sen. Patrice Dumont told Port-au-Prince radio station Vision2000 that the shots were fired by fellow Sen. Jean Marie Ralph Fethiere, who represents Cap-Haitien. Dumont said it was not intentional. Other witnesses on the scene said another senator, Willot Joseph, had also pulled his gun to fire.

Fethiere later told reporters that he was defending himself because he was under attack by a crowd of unknown individuals.

The Miami Herald confirmed that the photojournalist is Chery, whose work has frequently appeared in the paper's pages. The security agent who was wounded was identified as Leon Leblanc.

A video circulated on Haitian social media shows a crowd of young men following another senator to his car, yelling "thief, thief," when suddenly several shots are heard. A second video shows Fethiere walking to a white pickup as a group of men trail behind screaming, "thief, thief." He gets into the vehicle and closes the door. He then steps out and starts shooting before speeding off. The camera than pans to Chery, the photographer, showing that he was shot.

 

Other senators quickly abandoned the chaotic scene while protesters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince. As large crowds made their way up through Delmas en route to Petionville, streets were blocked, rocks thrown, tires burned and the crowd called for President Jovenel Moise's resignation.

Protests were also reported in the cities of Mirebalais and Gonaives, where some demonstrators erected more flaming barricades and ransacked an office belonging to Senate President Carl Murat Cantave. Attempting to reach Cantave's home, protesters were forced to turn around by police who fired tear gas.

The shooting incident took place as the Haitian Senate tried to meet for a second time to confirm Michel. A previous attempt at confirmation earlier this month was abandoned after protesters invaded the Senate chamber and someone poured fuel on the Senate floor in an attempt to set it on fire.

Moise, who is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, has been without a functional government since the Lower Chamber of Deputies fired Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant in March.

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