Dominican environment minister shot dead in his office

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Members of the National police stand guard at the Ministry of the Environment after Orlando Jorge Mera, was assassinated in his office in Santo Domingo

(This June 6 story corrects to reflect President Salvador Jorge Blanco was in office from 1982-1986, not 2002-2006)

SANTO DOMINGO – The Dominican Republic’s environment minister, Orlando Jorge Mera, was shot dead in his office on Monday, authorities said.

A spokesman for the president’s office, Homero Figueroa, said in a video posted to Twitter on Monday afternoon that a suspect, identified as Miguel Cruz, was arrested.

Figueroa said Cruz was a childhood friend of the minister, without giving a potential motive for the attack.

Employees at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources told journalists that they heard at least seven shots from within the building. Police units arrived on the scene shortly after.

Jorge Mera, a 55-year-old lawyer, was the son of former President Salvador Jorge Blanco, who was in office from 1982 to 1986.

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He is survived by his wife, Patricia Selma Villegas, and his two children. His son, Orlando Jorge Villegas, is a federal legislator and member of the Modern Revolutionary Party.

The president and the government have made themselves available to the minister’s family, Figueroa said.

(Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)