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Like a movie scene: 77-yr-old motorist shoots dead 2 protesters blocking traffic


As climate activists took to another intersection to block traffic in what has become one of several predictable protesting methods, the unthinkable happened when an angered motorist opened fire, killing two of the demonstrators.

The shocking incident took place in Panama and images were captured and posted to social media where the debate unfolded about whether this was a not-so-surprising result of protesters being allowed to physically block traffic with few consequences.

WARNING: Graphic Content

Several reports offered information about the gunman, who was identified as a 77-year-old American lawyer, and the moments leading up to his confrontation with the activists who were reportedly protesting a mining contract.

“Disturbing footage showed a man with gray hair and glasses casually approaching the blockade on the Pan-American Highway and waving his finger while arguing with the demonstrators — before pulling out a gun and opening fire,” the New York Post reported.

“Other footage showed people standing around bodies in the road in the Chame sector west of Panama City as well as the gunman being cuffed and led to a squad car,” the paper continued. “Police later shared a photo of the suspect handcuffed to a pipe as he was identified as Kenneth Darlington, 77, a lawyer and professor who holds dual citizenship in the US and Panama, according to Newsroom Panama and Agence France-Presse.”

One of the demonstrators reportedly died at the scene and another at the hospital where he was rushed.

Complete information was not fully available but several reports identified the shooter as Kenneth Darlington though the Santa Monica Observer – which called him a “local” had a slight difference in his name, reporting: “The gunman was named in local media as Kenneth Franklin Darlington Salas. If he is convicted, Mr Salas could be sentenced to house arrest rather than being sent to jail because of his age.”

“Footage posted on social media showed the motorist walking from his car, demanding the protesters get out of the road,” the outlet reported. “Initially, Mr Salas removed tyres (sic) which were obstructing the road. The protesters, according to witnesses, shouted at the man: “Are you going to kill someone?”The gunman replied: ‘You want to be the first?'”

“He opened fire, first shooting a protester holding a flag and then a second man who went to confront him, before walking off and removing tree trunks that had been blocking the road. He was then arrested,” continued. “Local media identified the victims as Abdiel Diaz, a teacher and union activist, and Ivan Mendoza.”

“This is a fact that has no place in a society called to be supportive like ours,” read a translation of a post on social media by Panama President Laurentino Cortizo who expressed his condolences.

“The violence came during the third week of protests over a large mining contract that allows Canada-based First Quantum Minerals to operate the region’s largest pit copper mine for at least 20 more years,” according to the New York Post. “The roadblocks have caused up to $80 million in daily losses to businesses and have shuttered schools nationwide for more than a week.”

Reactions poured in on social media where the response ranged from the serious to the mocking.

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