Argentina’s vice president survived an assassination attempt after a gunman who tried to shoot her at close range outside her home late Thursday survived an assassination attempt, the country’s leader said.
Vice President Cristina Fernandez was unscathed in the case, which has rocked a South American nation already plagued with turmoil by skyrocketing inflation and a trial of corruption charges she denies.
President Alberto Fernandez said in a statement that he tried to kill the vice president outside his Buenos Aires residence around 9pm local time (8pm ET) on Thursday, surrounded by a large crowd of supporters.
Video footage of the incident, confirmed by NBC News, shows the Vice President greeting raucous supporters near a white car as a hand emerges from the crowd holding a black pistol. Her hand appears to pull the trigger inches from her face, and you hear a click, but no shots. Members of the crowd then turn and appear to overwhelm the gunman.
The gun was loaded with five rounds, the president said. “A man put a gun to her head and pulled her trigger,” he said on national television after the incident.
The alleged perpetrator, whom authorities identified as Brazilian citizen Fernando Sabag Montiel, was quickly arrested by police and his weapons confiscated.
It was not immediately clear what his motives were. NBC News has reached out to the Argentine Police and Ministry of Security for more information.
The president referred to the end of the military regime in 1983, calling it “the most serious incident since we restored democracy.”
“We can disagree, we can have deep disagreements, but hate speech encourages violence in a democratic society, and democracy and violence cannot coexist. I can’t do it,’ he said. And the peace of society was disturbed. ”
Alberto Fernandez, who has no connection with the Vice President, called for an immediate investigation into the incident and announced that Friday would be a national holiday in solidarity with her.
Other officials also condemned the attack and accused the opposition of fomenting the violence.
Economy Minister Sergio Massa tweeted: “When hatred and violence prevail in the debate of ideas, they destroy society and create the situation we have today. An assassination attempt.”
The Vice President served two terms as the country’s president from 2007 to 2015. She is a politically powerful and polarizing figure in Argentina.
She has been accused of corruption during her presidency, which she vehemently denies.
The vice president’s supporters have flocked to the streets surrounding her home in the Argentine capital’s upmarket Recoleta neighborhood since prosecutors last week sought a 12-year prison term and a lifelong ban from public office.
Cristina Fernandez became Argentina’s first elected female president in 2007. Prior to that, she was First Lady when her husband Nestor Kirchner led the country in her early 2000s. She belongs to the left-wing Justice Party.
Her conservative successor, former president Mauricio Macri, also condemned the attack. “This extremely serious event requires an immediate and thorough explanation by judicial and security forces,” he wrote on Twitter.
Patricia Bulrich, a former minister under Macri and leader of the opposition Republican Proposal Party, criticized the president’s response to the attack.