Rome, Italy — A gunman shot and wounded two Italian police officers this morning outside the Prime Minister’s office.
The shooting occurred just as incoming PM Enrico Letta and his Cabinet were being sworn in down the street.
The gunman who was wearing a dark business suit reportedly fired about 10 times and wounded one of the officers in the neck. The other officer was shot in the leg. A bystander was also injured but not seriously. The suspect was wrestled to the ground, disarmed, and taken into custody by other cops at the scene. “Italian news reports said the [suspect] is Luigi Prieti, a 49-year-old man from the southern region of Calabria who now lives in the northern Piedmont region.” Prieti also reportedly was shot in the melee.
It it is not clear if the attack was politically motivated. Authorities in Italy claim the suspect has mental issues: “New justice minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said the attack ‘has the appearance of being carried out by an unbalanced man’ but she did not elaborate on the evidence for that claim.”
Rome’s mayor said the incident was not terrorism-related.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano (whose position is roughly equivalent to the US Attorney General) said that the suspect, “had intended to commit suicide, but told officers that he was unable to do so because he had run out of bullets.” Alfano further commented that “The tragic criminal gesture this morning was carried out by an unemployed 49-year-old man who showed signs of wanting to commit suicide.” Reportedly, the suspect — who recently lost his job and is having marital problems — shouted “shoot me!” at police.
After two months of political deadlock, Italy has finally formed a new, broad right-left coalition government under Letta, who represents the center-left Democratic Party. Former PM Silvio Berlusconi, whose conservative People of Freedom Party controls the Italian Senate, appears to be holding the balance of power in the new government, however, and Letta is probably on a short leash. Should Berlusconi withdraw his support from the coalition, new elections would be likely.