Horrifying moment American lawyer, 77, shoots and kills two climate change protesters obstructing a highway in Panama
A retired American lawyer and university professor was caught on camera Tuesday shooting dead two climate change protesters in Panama.
Kenneth Darlington, 77, appeared in court in the town of La Espiga on Wednesday afternoon and was remanded in custody after a two-hour hearing.
Eliécer Plicett, a lawyer for the two victims, said Darlington was charged with murder and illegal possession of a weapon. TVN notices reported.
Darlington was seen Tuesday in front of a large number of photographers and television crews as he walked toward a roadblock on a section of the Pan-American Highway in the Chame district, about 90 kilometers west of the capital Panama City.
Darlington allegedly told other passengers in the car as he got out: “This ends today.”
The Panamanian-born US citizen, who according to local media has a previous conviction for illegal firearms possession, is seen arguing with the protesters.
He pulls a gun from his pocket and then, still arguing, starts clearing the barricade on the highway. One of the protesters can be heard saying, “Why don’t you shoot?”
Darlington is seen then opens fire
Kenneth Darlington, a 77-year-old retired lawyer and university professor with U.S. and Panamanian citizenship, shot dead two climate change protesters blocking the Pan-American Highway in Panama on Tuesday.
Darlington pulled his gun on the protesters and waved it at them as he began clearing the blockade
One of the victims immediately fell to the ground: the second staggered in pain, clutched his shoulder and later died in hospital
The first victim immediately fell to the ground. A second can be seen holding his shoulder and grimacing in pain.
One of the victims, Abdiel Díaz, a teacher, died at the scene The times.
The other, Iván Rodríguez, 62, was taken to the Juan Vega Méndez Clinic in the nearby city of San Carlos, but was dead on arrival at the hospital.
Images shared on social media showed Darlington being handcuffed and taken away by police.
Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo offered his condolences to the families of the dead protesters and said such a crime “has no place” in his country.
Local media reported that Darlington, a native of Panama’s Colon province, was trying to drive back inland after several errands in the town of La Chorrera when he encountered the roadblock.
He walked to the barricade and asked where the leaders of the protest were, and was told that no leaders were present, according to TVN.
“I don’t want to talk to women,” he reportedly said. “I want to speak to the men.”
According to the complaint, a handful of men approached Darlington, and Darlington then opened fire.
He was reportedly overheard then declaring, “That ends that problem.”
Darlington then begins clearing the roadblock and returns to his car.
One person in the car asked him, according to the complaint obtained by TVN, “Do you know what you just did?”
Darlington reportedly replies, “Yes, I killed one and shot another.”
He got into the car and said to his colleagues, “Let’s go.”
Darlington’s girlfriend told him, “We’re not leaving” — and then called the police, TVN said.
The deaths come as street protests by thousands of Panamanians in recent weeks over a new mining contract with Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals have led to broader discontent with the government.
According to the Panamanian Association of Business Leaders, roadblocks set up by protesters have caused up to $80 million in daily losses for businesses, with schools across the country closed for more than a week and more than 150,000 medical appointments missed.
Officials have urged people to end the protests, although construction worker and teacher unions have vowed to continue taking to the streets until the First Quantum contract is annulled.
The new contract, agreed on October 20, was signed by the Panamanian government and gives First Quantum a twenty-year mining right with an option to extend for another twenty years, in exchange for $375 million in annual revenue for Panama.
Although the government has said the new contract offers better terms than the previous one, protesters disagree.