3 men suspected of assassinating Haiti’s president were killed in a bloody shootout, holed up in a concrete building, report says

A Haitian policeman in mask and helmet holding a firearm as he searches for suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
Police search for suspects who remain at large in the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, July 9, 2021.

  • Suspects in the killing of Haiti’s president were pinned down in a shootout, CNN reported.
  • The network retraced the aftermath, where 25 men were pinned down in a concrete building.
  • Some died, while some escaped to hide in the conveniently empty Taiwanese embassy, CNN said.
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The suspects in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse got into an protracted and bloody siege in the aftermath of the assassination, according to a CNN report.

Much is still unclear about the July 7 attack, which left the president dead, riddled with bullets, and Haitian security forces scrambling to catch the perpetrators.

Citing a source with knowledge of the operation, CNN reported on the multi-day chase between security forces and at least 25 suspects.

Among them were two Haitian-American suspects, taken alive, and two hostages who were members of the presidential guard, CNN reported.

In the early hours, after Moïse had been shot in his home outside Port-au-Prince, police set up a blockade on a narrow route and intercepted a convoy of five cars, the source said.

Trapped, the suspected assailants fled, abandoning guns and water supplies in their vehicles, per CNN.

The group headed up a steep hill, some scattering but most taking shelter along with the hostages in a two-story concrete building, which CNN visited.

“We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source told the network. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.” Fifteen of the suspects eventually captured were Colombian.

In the afternoon heat, the standoff lasted until 4 p.m. local time, when Haitian forces threw tear gas into the building, prompting a negotiation, CNN reported.

A close-up of a uniformed Haitian police officer holding a firearm, prior to planned protests at the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian police stand guard as protests were planned five days after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, July 12 2021.

Two Haitian-Americans were the first to surrender, saying they were interpreters, CNN reported.

The network did not name James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian-American suspects who have made this claim. The hostages also left the building, CNN reported.

A shootout began, with Haitian security forces advancing and the heavily-armed suspects throwing a grenade out towards them – which didn’t explode, per CNN.

Three suspects were killed in the exchange of fire, which went on for two hours, CNN’s source said. But when the security forces reached the building, most of their assailants had fled, having quietly escaped uphill during the shooting, CNN reported.

Two bodies, one shrouded and the other just out of view, in the back of a van. Haitian police say they are suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
A police vehicle carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shootout with police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two dead are suspects in Moïse’s killing.

The group ended up at the Taiwanese embassy, which was left empty. CNN noted that Haitian forces were suspicious that the men knew how to reach such a perfect hideaway nearby,

Diplomatic properties have special rules and are not easily accessible by the police, buying the men some time.

A spokeswoman for the embassy said staff were kept home after hearing of the previous day’s assassination. She confirmed that the grounds were breached by armed men, and said that Taiwan gave Haitian security forces permission to enter as soon as they were asked.

Eleven suspects were eventually captured there, according to CNN’s source, with others swept up from the surrounding area.

Exactly what the assailants hoped to do is still unclear. A Haitian-American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, is suspected of masterminding the attack, which he didn’t join in person.

Solages and Vincent, the other two Haitian-Americans under suspicion who claim to be translators, believed that the plan was to arrest, not kill Moïse, a judge said.

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