GUATEMALA CITY – At least six people died in an attacked staged by gang members on Wednesday on Guatemala City’s Roosevelt Hospital, officials said.
A prison inmate, identified as Anderson Daniel Cabrera Cifuentes, who had been taken to the hospital for treatment, escaped during the attack and shootout with police that followed.
The National Civilian Police (PNC) is searching for the fugitive in the southern Guatemala City area where the hospital is located.
The situation inside the hospital is chaotic following the attack, PNC and fire department spokesmen said.
Authorities have not identified the people killed, some of whom are gang members, and wounded in the shooting.
Cabrera was taken from the Fraijanes II prison to the hospital for some medical tests, the PNC and Penitentiary System said.
The 29-year-old Cabrera, who is a member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) street gang, started serving a prison sentence in December 2013 for murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy, Penitentiary System spokesman Rudy Esquivel said.
The MS street gang was originally formed by Salvadorans living in Los Angeles during the 1980s, with most of its members young men whose parents fled their nation’s erstwhile civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gang members were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during immigration crackdowns in California in the 1990s.
MS spread throughout El Salvador and to neighboring countries in Central America.
Police responded to the shooting and have arrested at least eight gang members, including a minor, and seized two AK-47 assault rifles.
“There are several dead and wounded, it’s barbaric,” Roosevelt Hospital director Carlos Soto told Guatemalan media.
The gunmen apparently went to the hospital to free an inmate taken there for treatment, Soto said.
Roosevelt Hospital will no longer provide treatment to inmates even if “I’m ordered to do it by the president,” Soto said.