BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Police detained a man on suspicion of killing an 11-year-old boy and neighbors wrecked his home Monday amid anger over escalating drug violence in the Argentine city of Rosario, where a threat was directed at soccer superstar Lionel Messi last week.
Máximo Jerez was killed early Sunday when at least one gunmen attacked a birthday party. Three other children, including a 2-year-old, were injured.
Hours after Máximo was buried Monday, people in the northern Rosario neighborhood where the alleged shooter lived attacked his home.
Local news channels carried live images of people setting fires and throwing rocks at the home of the suspect, who at one point had a gun in his hand and appeared to fire it.
Police detained the man and then had to prevent people from attacking him. Once the suspect was taken away, neighbors destroyed his home and stole his belongings.
“We don’t want another Máximo in the neighborhood, we’re so tired of everything, tired that they rob us and that our children die,” Antonia Jerez, the boy’s aunt, told local news media. “My nephew is no longer here, they killed him and the whole neighborhood is in mourning, angry.”
People destroyed at least 3 houses in the area they claimed were used by drug dealers.
The killing was the latest dramatic turn for a city where drug-related killings have become common with a level of violence that is rare for Argentina.
Adrián Spelta, the prosecutor in charge of investigating the case, told local news media that the killing had to do with a turf war between rival drug gangs.
“Certain limits that used to exist have been crossed,” Spelta said, noting that in other occasions “the presence of minors” would have led gang members to “suspend any kind of violent attack.”
The troubles in Rosario received international attention when gunmen threatened Messi in a written message left Thursday after they fired at a supermarket owned by his in-laws. Nobody was injured in the early morning attack.
This story has been corrected to show that the slain boy was 11 years old.