Mendoza police ChiefWednesday, April 30, 2014
‘We have a good lead on one assailant’
Mendoza Police Chief Juan Carlos Caleri is leading the investigation into the attack that ended in the shooting death of New Zealand man Nicholas Heyward. He spoke to the Herald over the phone last night after a high-level meeting with provincial government authorities.
There was some confusion about the victim’s identity. Can you confirm what Mendoza Police know about him?
The courts have confirmed his identity as New Zealander Nicholas Heyward of 31 years of age. At 11pm on Monday night we were able to establish this information when we retrieved his passport from the hostel where he was staying.
What has come of the search for the two assailants?
We’ve been working on the case since it first occurred. We were able to build sketches of the assailants based on the statements of the Australian woman and French man who were with the victim at the time of his death, as well as two people from Mendoza who are also being treated as witnesses. We have a fairly good idea of the appearance of one of the assailants, but not the other.
Police sources had indicated the assailants were hiding in the La Favorita neighbourhood of Mendoza. Can you confirm this?
So far the clues have led to nothing. We believe they fled toward La Favorita in the west of the city, but we can’t confirm this until we’ve located the assailants.
Are you surpised about the violent nature of the crime?
We are suprised, because the victim is said to have fallen to the ground as the criminals began fleeing. They shot him as they left the scene, which does not make sense in terms of crime patterns.
Authorities are offering a 40,000-peso reward. Is it common to offer a reward of this amount for a murder?
It’s not common to offer a reward. When the evidence is scarce the courts consider it necessary to offer a reward. The amounts vary and they don’t apply to all homicides. I should say that homicides in Mendoza usually involve people who have some sort of established relationship with one another at the time of the murder.
What assessment can you make about safety in Mendoza?
There have been no more than four attempted robberies in Mendoza that have ended in homicide that I can remember in recent years.
There is a lot of international media attention on this case. Are you feeling pressure to ensure this crime gets solved immediately?
That this man was a foreigner does not mean we’re more involved in solving the case than other homicides.