A former member of the military with a criminal record was arrested on Friday by the Spanish Civil Guard after being identified as the person seen in a video firing a shotgun at photos of Spanish government officials, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
A probe into the 31-second video was opened on Thursday as soon as Spain’s Interior Ministry became aware of its existence. In the footage, which has been shared on social media, a man is seen discharging the weapon at targets carrying the images of several high-profile politicians.
The Spanish government has expressed its “complete rejection and condemnation” of the video
The photos were of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias, who is also the leader of the leftist Unidas Podemos party, Equality Minister Irene Montero, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the parliamentary spokesperson for Unidas Podemos, Pablo Echenique.
In the video, the faces of each politician are shown one by one by the person recording, before he shouts: “Verdict.” Moments later, a corpulent man shoots down each image, then laughs and makes an obscene gesture. Two other people are seen in the footage.
The individuals involved in making the video are facing hate crime charges. According to sources close to the investigation, the National Police identified the shooter as a former member of the armed forces who currently works as a taxi driver, and also tracked the private firing range to the southern city of Málaga.
The Spanish government has expressed its “complete rejection and condemnation” of the video, which it argues “sows hate” and represents “serious threats.” After becoming aware of the footage, the government announced that the solicitor general’s office would file a complaint with public prosecutors so that they can investigate the incident.
The first results from the probe revealed that the weapon used in the video was not a regulatory firearm used by members of Spain’s security forces and that the firing range was not one that is used by police forces for target practice, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.
“The video was pretty brainless,” said a regular user of the firing range, standing outside the closed premises at around 11am on Friday.
“Now they’ll want to execute him,” said another. “I’ll bet if he had shot at a Spanish flag, they wouldn’t have done anything to him.”
None of the people gathered outside the premises admitted to knowing the arrested man. The firing range has around 200 members, including some who serve in law enforcement agencies.
English version by Melissa Kitson.