3 suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s president were killed in a bloody shootout, holed up in a concrete building, report says

A Haitian policeman in mask and helmet holding a firearm as he searches for suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
The Haitian police on Friday searched for suspects in the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo
  • Suspects in the killing of Haiti’s president were pinned down in a shootout, CNN reported.
  • CNN retraced the aftermath, in which dozens of men were thought to be cornered by authorities.
  • Some died, while others escaped to the conveniently empty Taiwanese Embassy, a source told CNN.
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The suspects in the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse got into a protracted and bloody siege in the aftermath of the assassination, according to a CNN report.

Much is still unclear about last Wednesday’s early-morning attack, which left the president dead, his body reportedly riddled with bullets, and Haitian security forces scrambling to catch the perpetrators.

Citing a source with knowledge of the operation, CNN described a multiday chase between security forces and at least 25 suspects transporting two hostages who were members of the presidential guard.

In the early hours, after Moïse was killed in his home near the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, the police set up a blockade on a narrow route and intercepted a convoy of five cars, the source told CNN.

Trapped, the suspects fled, abandoning guns and water supplies in their vehicles, per CNN.

The group headed up a steep hill, some scattering but most taking shelter along with the hostages in a two-story concrete building, which CNN visited.

“We could hear them talking and shouting in Spanish,” the source told the network. “They were talking, and they knew exactly what they were facing.” Fifteen of the suspects eventually captured were Colombian.

In the afternoon heat, the standoff lasted until 4 p.m. local time, when Haitian forces threw tear gas into the building, prompting a negotiation, CNN reported.

A close-up of a uniformed Haitian police officer holding a firearm, prior to planned protests at the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian police stood guard Monday as protests were planned five days after Moïse’s assassination. Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

Two Haitian Americans were the first to surrender, saying they were interpreters, CNN reported.

The network did not name James Solages and Joseph Vincent, two Haitian American suspects who are said to have made the same claim to a judge. The two hostages also left the building, CNN reported.

A shootout began, with Haitian security forces advancing and the trapped men throwing a grenade out toward them – which didn’t explode, CNN said, citing its source.

Three suspects were killed in the exchange of fire, which went on for two hours, the source told CNN. But when the security forces reached the building, most of the people inside had fled, having quietly escaped uphill during the shooting, CNN reported.

Two bodies, one shrouded and the other just out of view, in the back of a van. Haitian police say they are suspects in the killing of Jovenel Moïse.
A police vehicle carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shootout with the police in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo

The group ended up at the Taiwanese Embassy, which was left empty. CNN noted that Haitian forces were suspicious about how the men ended up in such a good hideaway nearby.

Diplomatic properties have special rules and are not easily accessible by the police, buying the men some time.

A spokeswoman for the embassy said the staff had been kept home after hearing of the previous day’s assassination. She confirmed that the grounds were breached by armed men and said Taiwan gave Haitian security forces permission to enter as soon as it was asked.

Eleven suspects were eventually captured there, according to CNN’s source, with others swept up from the surrounding area.

The motive for the president’s killing is unclear. A judge said that Solages and Vincent, the two Haitian Americans arrested over the attack, believed that the plan was to arrest, not kill, Moïse.

Haitian authorities have accused Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Florida resident thought to have traveled to Haiti in June, of masterminding the attack, which he wasn’t present for.