Carolina, PR – Carolina Municipal Police Department (CMPD) Agent Eliezer Hernandez-Cartagena was killed in the line of duty on Monday while trying to apprehend a gunman who had murdered two other law enforcement officers just minutes before.
The violent confrontation occurred after fellow CMPD Agent Luiz Salaman-Conde responded to a motor vehicle crash on Avenida Roberto Clemente, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
When Agent Salaman-Conde arrived at the scene, an unidentified suspect opened fire on him with an AK-47.
The gunman left the wounded agent in the roadway and carjacked a nearby vehicle, police said.
He then sped off down the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway as additional CMPD and Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) officers gave chase, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Among them were 43-year-old PRPD Agent Luis Marrero-Diaz and Agent Hernandez-Cartagena.
The suspect stopped the stolen vehicle near the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and started shooting at police again.
Agent Marrero-Diaz was fatally wounded in the attack, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The gunman then slammed his vehicle into Agent Hernandez-Cartagena before he escaped once again.
Agent Salaman-Conde, Agent Marrero-Diaz, and Agent Hernandez-Cartagena all died from their injuries.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico W. Stephen Muldrow said the attack constituted “an unspeakable act of barbarism.”
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these brave officers in the line of duty,” Muldrow said in a statement on Tuesday.
“On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers’ loved ones and their colleagues,” he wrote. “I will make available all of the resources of the USAO and work with other federal law enforcement agencies to assist the Puerto Rico Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.”
In the wake of the triple murder, investigators discovered the bullet-ridden body of a man with a sign hung around his neck that read, “I was responsible for the killing of the guards. Here he is,” Bloomberg reported.
It is unclear whether or not investigators believe the body is that of the man who killed the agents.
They said on Tuesday that the investigation into the brutal attack remains ongoing, Bloomberg reported.
“This violent attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens,” Muldrow said in his statement. “We must honor the valor and the sacrifices of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe.”
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi decreed three days of mourning on Tuesday in honor of the slain agents, Presencia reported.
“I deeply regret the pain suffered by the families of these three heroes who were murdered while fulfilling their duty to protect the lives of everyone on our Island,” Pierluisi said. “These violent acts and contempt for life cannot have space in Puerto Rico that we want.”
The governor said he issued the decree “in memory and honor of our brave policemen who lost their lives.”
“To all their family members, my solidarity and my prayers so that they have the strength and comfort they need in these difficult times,” Pierluisi said. “Our entire town mourns the departure of Luis Marrero, Luis Salamán and Eliezer Hernández.”
“We thank our policemen for their courage and dedication to go out every day to defend the people, risking their lives. I am committed to working urgently to empower and provide more resources to our uniformed,” the governor concluded.
These are the 3 police officers killed today in Puerto Rico, allegedly by a carjacking suspect who shot 2 of them dead as they tried to stop him & then ran over a 3rd officer.
From left to right, they are : Eliezer Hernández Cartagena, Luis Marrero Díaz & Luis Salamán Conde. https://t.co/4rxcY1NXkW
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 12, 2021
GLFOP: Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Agent Eliezer Hernández-Cartagena
Carolina Municipal Police Department, Puerto Rico
EOW: Monday, January 11, 2021#EnoughIsEnough #OfficerDown #EOW #ThinBlueLine pic.twitter.com/YisEus1Dqw
— SCFOP Lodge #31 (@scfop_31) January 12, 2021
We are deeply saddened to report the loss of Agent Luis Salamán-Conden, Agent Eliezer Hernández-Cartagena of the Carolina Municipal Police Dept in Puerto Rico and Agent Luis Marrero-Díaz of the PR Police Dept. May they rest in peace. Thank you for your service. #OfficerDown pic.twitter.com/bygSTjfXbh
— RosemontPublicSafety (@RSMTpolicefire) January 12, 2021
Please keep the Puerto Rico Police￼ in your thoughts and prayers. Two officers were shot and killed, one was run over and killed, during a traffic stop.#officerdown #neverforgetthefallen #EOW #puertorico pic.twitter.com/eSt4TyQ4jn
— Oakboro Police Dept. (@Oakboropolicenc) January 12, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Carolina Municipal Police Department Agent Eliezer Hernandez-Cartagena, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Agent Eliezer Hernandez-Cartagena, your life mattered.