Police: Puerto Rico Assailants Targeting Drug Rival Killed 2, Injured 13

May 30, 2023
10:28 AM

Bullet holes pierce a front window at the Piel Kanela restaurant-bar and mini-market in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, May 29, 2023. Assailants killed two people and injured 13 the previous day when they fired indiscriminately outside the bar during a birthday party, according to police. (AP Photo/Alejandro Granadillo)

By JAVIER COLÓN DAVILA, Associated Press

SAN JUAN (AP) — Assailants in Puerto Rico who killed two people and injured 13 when they fired indiscriminately outside a bar during a birthday party were targeting just one man in a drug trafficking feud, police said Monday.

No arrests have been made in the weekend shooting.

Police believe the target was a man in his 20s who was killed outside the Piel Kanela bar in San Juan when assailants in cars opened fire early Sunday, Col. Roberto Rivera told the Associated Press in an interview.

The man, Luis E. Guzmán González, 28, had eluded earlier attempts at assassination in attacks linked to drug trafficking. “What these people wanted to happen, finally happened,” Rivera said.

All of the other victims were bystanders, Rivera said.

Another man at the scene, Luis Hernández Martinez, 72, was killed. Eight people were being treated in hospitals for wounds suffered in the attack, and five had been treated and released.

Investigators who reviewed security camera footage believe one vehicle drove past the bar and identified the target. Then occupants of two other vehicles opened fire.

The shooting brought to 11 the total number of people slain in violence over the Memorial Day weekend in Puerto Rico.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the Sunday morning attack was “hard” but expressed confidence that investigators would crack the case. He also lauded the work of police forces under his administration, saying that 57 fewer people have been slain in violence through this date this year, as compared with last year.

So far in 2023, there have been 204 slayings, compared with 261 during the same period in 2022.

Rivera, an auxiliary commander of investigation with 38 years experience in the Puerto Rico police, said criminals have abandoned a previous unwritten code not to shoot targets when they’re with relatives, though he didn’t clarify whether Sunday’s victims included relatives of the targeted man.

Assailants in targeted killings also are becoming younger, he said.

“Now they give them a rifle, and tell them to shoot without looking. What’s important is to finish the mission,” Rivera said.