An assassin who allegedly shot and killed an Ecuadorian TV star who reported on the corruption of medicine sales during the COVID-19 pandemic in broad daylight claims he only intended to intimidate the star but “the situation got out of hand” and he ended up shooting him.
The actor, model and TV star Efrain Ruales, 36, was travelling along Guillermo Cubillo Avenue in the city of Guayaquil in the south-western Ecuadorian province of Guayas around 7am on 27th of January when he was fatally shot.
Following the killing Patricio Pazmino, the minister of government, said that the crime of Ruales is “terrible” and that the police and specialised investigation units will do everything in their power to find those responsible.
The local news outlet El Comercio is reporting now that progress has been made in the investigation as a suspect confessed to the killing last Thursday (22nd April).
However, the suspect known by his alias ‘Alvarito’ stopped short of taking full responsibility for the killing. He claims that he never meant to shoot Raules but the situation “got out of hand” and as a result he shot and killed the TV star.
A second suspect, known by his alias of ‘Choclo’, is currently being held in detention and investigated by the prosecutor for allegedly organising the assassination after being contracted by an unidentified ‘mastermind’ to kill Raules.
In the footage of the shooting Ruales is seen in his white Ford ABC when a Suzuki Gran Vitara speeding down the street pulls alongside Ruales vehicle and the suspects pull down their window and fire multiple shops at the TV present before speeding off.
After the fatal shooting Ruales’ SUV continued to roll forwards for a short while before coming to a stop in front of a school currently closed because of the pandemic.
Government minister Patricio Pazmino said on that according to the autopsy the victim died due to an internal bleeding caused by the impact of the bullet that hit several organs.
The killing which shocked the country due to the victims fame evoked a strong reaction form authorities who offered a reward of USD 50,000 (GBP 36,469) for anyone able to provide information about the suspects.
After the shooting took place, the newspaper El Universo published a video posted by the presenter last year where he said that he had received death threats for his reports on corruption and the cost of medicines during the pandemic.
Police spokesperson Cesar Zapata responded to the claims: “We cannot say if there were threats or not but we are investigating the case.”
Ruales was the TV presenter of ‘En Contacto’ (‘In Contact’) on the channel Ecuavisa, where he had worked since 2012.
The victim was also an actor and one of the few Ecuadorian stars with a large social media following, boasting 2 million on Instagram and another 2 million on Facebook, and over 500,000 on Twitter.
In a touching message on her Instagram profile the victims girlfriend, Alejandra Jaramillo said:”I do not understand, I do not accept it. How can I start explaining how much pain I am feeling? I do not find the words to describe how much I am going to miss you … and our planned married life together? And the four kids you wanted to have?”
His death has caused outrage among citizens and celebrities, such as journalist Denisse Molina who said “We are shocked. No words. With a lot of pain. Our friend has died.”
Matias Zibell, who works for the BBC in Ecuador, said the death of Efrain Rurales intensifies the social and political atmosphere in Ecuador.
The two suspects are being held in detention whilst the Attorney General’s Office continues with the investigation.
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Story By: Peter Barker, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash