Community Security Guard in Peru Shot in Face During Casino Robbery

Posted on: August 4, 2023, 08:08h. 

Last updated on: August 4, 2023, 11:34h.

A man is fighting for his life after trying to stop a group of thieves on Wednesday afternoon as they left a casino they had just robbed in Puente Piedra, Peru. Herless Saldívar Cieza, working as a night watchman in the city, was shot in the face and abdomen as the crooks tried to get away.

Members of Peru's official watchmen corps on patrol
Members of Peru’s official watchmen corps on patrol. A watchman was shot in the face by a thief who had just robbed a casino in Puente Piedra. (Image: Diario La República)

Saldívar, according to municipal authorities, and a group of security guards arrived at the unidentified casino after receiving a call from citizens in the area. Two customers managed to escape the robbery and alerted a watch patrol car, which then headed to the casino.

As the thieves left the casino, Saldívar and the others were ready for a pursuit. However, before the assailants took off, one of them approached the group and fired several shots with a pistol. Saldívar was hit twice, with one bullet tearing through one of his cheekbones.

Near-Fatal Attack

The 34-year-old victim was rushed to a hospital. At first, it was thought that the bullet strike was a through-and-through. After X-rays were taken, the medical team realized that the bullet remained lodged in the posterior cervical area in the back of the neck.

After transferring him to a trauma hospital, doctors began preparing to operate on Saldívar on Thursday morning. So far, no updates on his condition have been provided.

So far, local police have only made one arrest in the case. The Puente Piedra police force hopes that the National Police, with the help of area surveillance footage and testimony, will capture the other suspects.

A similar case occurred a few months ago in the city of Surco, where Luis Manrique, another night watchman, was fatally shot by a criminal during the commission of a robbery. The incident sparked indignation in civilian and political circles, although it didn’t lead to any decisive measures to protect the watchmen.

Give Watchmen Guns

Watchmen in Peru are civilians who patrol given areas. They work with law enforcement, but don’t have any official power and can only carry nonlethal weapons.

That should change, according to Luis Pacheco, the municipal manager of Puente Piedra. In light of the attack, he’s campaigning for the approval of firearms, complete with full training and evaluation.

It isn’t possible for law enforcement to be present everywhere, and the watchmen, who work day and night shifts, fill the gaps. They are able to monitor neighborhoods and districts constantly, whereas Peru’s thin police ranks are still dealing with riots and protests that have been ongoing since last December.

On the same day Saldívar and his fellow watchmen were trying to stop the casino robbery, another group kept an 18-year-old girl from being kidnapped in the Los Olivos district north of Lima.

Initial information indicated that the woman, whose identity wasn’t revealed, was about to be kidnapped by subjects who had previously taken her cell phone. Just as the kidnappers tried to force her into a car, the watchmen intervened and apprehended the suspects.