Seventeen people were murdered over the past two days in Puerto Rico on the island’s bloodiest weekend so far this year, bringing the number of violent deaths in 2012 to 389.
Among the victims were two U.S. tourists from the state of Florida, a couple between 30 and 35 years old, whose bodies were found on Sunday with fatal gunshot wounds in a hotel room in the capital’s Isla Verde district.
The body of a 45-year-old man was also found on Sunday morning in a hotel in Cupey, in the San Juan metropolitan area.
Other murders over the weekend occurred in the capital and at various spots around the U.S. commonwealth.
Puerto Rico police chief Hector Pesquera said in remarks to WKQ radio that authorities do not know the reason for the elevated number of murders on the weekend.
Regarding home invasion assaults, he recommended that people not resist the attackers but if they do have household firearms for personal defense and resort to them never to shoot only to wound.
“When there is a confrontation, it’s recommended that if you have to shoot - hopefully not - shoot at the body, at the center. Don’t be trying to wound and don’t do anything (else), because they’ll kill you,” said Puerto Rico’s No. 1 police official.
So far in 2012, five people have been killed in home invasions on the island.
Last year, there were 1,136 murders committed in Puerto Rico, an increase of 15 percent over 2010 and the highest figure registered since records began being kept in 1940.
Some 49.2 percent of the crimes committed on the island in 2011 were linked to drug trafficking, according to police statistics.
The uncontrollable increase in murders in recent years forced the government in 2009 to sent the National Guard - a reserve military body comprised of volunteers - out onto the streets, a move that appeared to make no difference in the crime wave and which the government ended a year later citing the high cost.