Shock as Haitian senator opens fire on protesters outside parliament, leaving photojournalist wounded

September 25, 2019 at 01:00 pm | News

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

September 25, 2019 at 01:00 pm | News

Senator Ralph Fethiere fires his gun outside Parliament. Pic credit: AP

Haitian senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière opened fire during a protest outside the country’s parliament building on Monday, injuring two people, including a photographer.

Leon Leblanc, a security guard, was wounded while Chery Dieu-Nalio, a photographer for the Associated Press, was hit in the face in the incident.

Reuters photographer, Andres Martinez Casares, took the dramatic photos of the Haitian senator firing shots outside the parliament in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière is seen on the right, seconds after opening fire. Pic Credit: REUTERS

“I’ve covered shootings before and have also photographed fights in official buildings, like in the National Assembly in Caracas in 2017 or recently in the Haitian parliament between lawmakers, but I never thought that I would see a politician using a gun like Monday.”

Recounting the incident, Casares said he followed a group of opposition supporters who went to the car park of the Haitian parliament and later began shouting at Féthière, who got into his car.

“I moved to the side as I thought they could drive aggressively to leave.”

“But some men went to the door and started shouting again, and then Féthière came out and pointed the gun in the air and fired some shots, and then fired to the ground,” Casares said.

Reportedly defending himself from armed individuals who threatened him, Senator Féthière opened fire as he left parliament in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Pic Credit: REUTERS

“I was attacked by violent militant groups, so I defended myself,” he told Haiti’s Radio Mega, adding: “Self-defence is a sacred right.”

Meanwhile, another senator, Patrice Dumont, told local media that Féthière issued a warning before opening fire.

According to the BBC, Casares put his ability to remain calm and take pictures down to experience.

“It was a matter of a few seconds, my pictures were taken in two or three seconds; there was just enough time to go from one side of the car to the other and frame some quick pictures.”

“I don’t think you are totally calm because you are alert, trying to be aware of the whole situation; there is a man shooting in the air, but there are also scared people running away that push you, and you don’t know if there is anybody else willing to use a gun,” he said.

“You are there, and there is an unusual event in front of you that might not last, you just try to get something in focus to be able to show it to the world.”

Casares told BBC that he was concerned that the situation could get worse.

After the shooting, wounded photographer Dieu-Nalio “came calling me and pointing to his chin, so when I saw the blood I checked him and I stopped the bleeding with a bandage.”

Photojournalist Chery Dieu Nalio holds a healing gauze next to his mouth
Pic Credit: REUTERS

The photographer has since been treated and released from a Port-au-Prince hospital. He is, however, expected to undergo further treatment this week to remove the object from his jaw, according to a report by the Associated Press.

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