Ecuador presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot and killed during a campaign event in Quito on Wednesday, with officials suggesting “organized crime” may have been behind the assassination.
The shooting occurred as the 59-year-old politician prepared to leave a political rally in Ecuador’s capital, with his campaign adviser, Carlos Figueroa, confirming his death to local media, noting he had been shot in the head three times.
President Guillermo Lasso commented on the shooting in a statement shared to social media, saying he was “Outraged and shocked by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.” He added that “organized crime has gone too far,” and said the murder would be solved.
Video footage captured the moment shooting started as unknown assailants assassinated Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio at a political rally near Quito #Ecuador
— CNW (@ConflictsW) August 10, 2023
Footage has circulated online purporting to show the moment of the shooting, with more than a dozen gunshots heard as security guards escorted Villavicencio to a vehicle following the rally in Quito. Figueroa said the candidate had no vital signs when he examined him immediately after the attack, and that he was declared dead at a nearby hospital.
According to Ecuador’s attorney general, an unnamed suspect in the shooting was arrested, but later died of injuries sustained during an “exchange of bullets” with law enforcement. Nine others were wounded during the incident, including two officers and a candidate for local office. Police described the shooting as an act of terrorism and vowed to launch a probe.
Not long after the murder, Villavicencio’s party, Movimiento Construye, took to social media to say that “armed men” had attacked its campaign office in Quito, but shared no further details. In a separate statement, the party also demanded action from the government, insisting Villavicencio’s death must not go “unpunished.”
President Lasso noted that he called an urgent meeting of top security officials to discuss the incident on Wednesday night. He has previously denounced organized criminal gangs and drug traffickers, blaming them for a recent surge in violence across Ecuador, which has become a major campaign issue.