“So, have you heard about ‘The Man with the Rifle’ — el hombre del rifle?”

A middle-aged man goes to a bakery in downtown Barquisimeto. His wife waits for him in the car. Suddenly, he falls in the ground. His wife comes to his aid. He’s been shot in the head. He dies shortly after in a private clinic.

This happened one week ago, right in broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon right on Vargas Avenue, one of the busiest in Barquisimeto.

Maybe it was a robbery gone awry? Or a stray bullet from a nearby shooting?

No and no.

 
Someone in my hometown is killing people at random just because he likes it and probably won’t get caught. Fantastic.

“A guy shot him with a rifle from a car”. My brother-in-law tells me. “A caliber .22 rifle, most likely”.

Apparently, this isn’t an isolated case. Several weeks ago, three men were killed nearby in just a matter of hours. The same bullet caliber and the same M.O. points at “The Man with the Rifle”. That’s what people are calling him.

Just the idea of a serial sniper felt alien to me, even in a violent country like Venezuela. It feels more like something that could happen in the U.S.A. As a matter of fact, it did 14 years ago.

My sister tells me they first heard the story from the social networks. That gave me pause. “Maybe this is all exaggerated”, I thought to myself. “No way, there’s some serial sniper in Barquisimeto, of all places, right?”

24 hours after that conversation, the local media confirmed that “The Man with the Rifle” was indeed responsible for the crime.

According to reports, “The Man with the Rifle” started his killing spree last year. Details are sketchy, but it appears he has killed at least six people. The only connection between the victims is they’re all male. It seems like he picks them out at random. He uses a car to commit his crimes and has a driving accomplice.

So far, there’s not a single physical description of the sniper.

Local authorities are on the case. They even called for back-up investigators from the capital.

Then things really started to get weird. “The Man with the Rifle” started to taunt them over the weekend: Two young men were shot near the site known as “Flor of Venezuela”. At least, that gave them a new lead. The suspect’s alleged vehicle is a Gray or Silver Toyota Corolla.

However, other witnesses’ accounts say that a while vehicle was used in previous incidents.

Outside of some newspapers and websites, the story has hardly make it to the local airwaves. With rising bus fares, food shortages and political polarization, viewers have their share of bad news.

But on social networks, “The Man with the Rifle” is dominating. For people who are already scared of going out even in daytime, a serial sniper is just too much.

If you think there’s not enough information about this case, you have a point. The silence from the authorities (both local and national) is deafening. Part of me think this is understandable: you don’t want to cause unnecessary panic and derail an ongoing investigation.

But let’s not forget this is the same central government that puts fences around morgues and allows intelligence agents to harass journalists in order to stop publishing damaging crime statistics. So, this is not surprising at all. At least, not for me.

Summing up: someone in my hometown is killing people at random just because he likes it and probably won’t get caught. Fantastic.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The difference between the USA and Venezuela, is that there’s no total impunity here. Sure, occasionally there are snipers or killers, but they are promptly persecuted with thousands of cops. The FBI and the CIA plus regular police. Remember, this is a country with over 300 Million people, 10 x more than Vzla. So eventually, you will have a bad apple to deal with.

    Same goes with Europe. We all hear when there’s one isolated violent occurrence. Somewhere. But it’s an entire freaking continent, invaded by Muslims now, Africans, etc. Terrorism. But they do a great freaking job, police, anti-terrorism.. to protect their people.

    In Latin-American countries, and especially Vzla, law enforcement is almost non-existent. Total impunity. Thugs like “El Raton” or “El Picure” are hardly ever get caught by police, much less regular drug dealers and killers. They end-up dead, killed by another gang.

    Thus, we have surpassed world-record murder levels, beating even Honduras numbers. The sad part is that Venezuelan people slowly adapt to the risk and violence, it seems. They don’t stop at red lights, stay home at night, and that’s “normal” now.

  2. There’s a more relevant precedent than the Washington Sniper; In the late 70s, in New York, David Berkowitz prowled the streets, shooting at women (or those he thought were women). He killed about 7 people before getting caught. Commonly known as “The Son of Sam”, for the letters he left on the scenes after some shootings, which were a ploy to argue an insanity defense in case he was captured.

    The Zodiac Killer, in the late 60s California, was known too for shooting at victims without previous warning.

    After reading a lot on the subject for years (I’m fascinanted by it), let me try a hand a criminal profiling:

    It’s a male, late 20s to early 50s, middle class and he either lives in the area or worked in it (since he seems to know it really well).

    He’s had a long history of issues with other people, probably of a criminal nature and it’s likely he has attacked someone else with another method before staying with the one he has now (which seems to be the M.O. he prefers, which means he has experimented before). He’s known to be polite, but he has no friends. He lives with a close relative or he’s married (since he needs to go out and murder his victims right on the street, instead of taking them home and controlling the environment) and if he’s married, the wife has a completely passive personality and lets him come and go as he pleases.

    Serial killers aren’t good at interpersonal relationships and the accomplice is like the wife, completely dominated by the perpetrator (meaning, of the two, one of them is “the main player”). He probably switches cars to avoid detection and he stalks victims for a long time before commiting the act. He’s not doing it with an agenda, he’s doing it for the “thrill of the hunt”. He owns more than one gun and carries it with him during the acts, or keeps it hidden at home.

    The fact that he has killed two people on the same day, means he’s getting bolder, which means he knows the situation well, he knows what to expect. This is worrisome, because it may imply he has done it for a very long time (probably before authorities think). He considers himself superior to law enforcement and will either play it cool when questioned or outright confess. The accomplice will throw the main perp under the bus to save his own skin.

    He will continue getting bolder and doing it until caught for this, or another crime.

    • It looks as though someone has been watching too much “criminal minds” … Anyhow, speaking about criminal minds, I remember an episode in which they explain why these type of killers were a lot more common in first world countries (the episode was about a mexican serial killer), I cannot remember the reasons though.

      • Hahahaha, naaah, just reading a lot of books on these creeps. Just the opinion of an amateur, and criminal profiling is not an exact science. However, read about the profile doctor Alexandr Bukhanovsky did on Andrei Chikatilo, a thing of beauty in which he described, point by point, the personality of “Citizen X” (his name for the killer) so accurately that when he read it to Chikatilo himself, the killer broke down in tears. Luis Garavito’s profile was also fantastic describing the unknown assailant at the time.

        They’re not really more common in the first world, they are everywhere, in all societies -I just mentioned Chikatilo, which was the most notorious serial murderer of the USSR, but after the Union fell, it seemed like an epidemic of serial killers took over Eastern Europe. The reason is simple: They’ve always been there, but now censure was not. Cooperation with investigative agencies of the west was now allowed. It’s the type of factors that tell you that, the more advanced a detective group is, the more prone they are to detect serial killers (already a difficult thing, as they can operate for years without anybody noticing).

        It’s a super interesting subject that has fascinated me for years, but it can saturate you after a while.

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