SANTIAGO (Reuters) - An American man was remanded in custody in a Chilean seaside town on Monday after being charged with attempted murder over the alleged shooting of a protester on Sunday, according to prosecutors.
John Cobin, 56, an American living in Chile, fired “three or four” shots during a protest of around 5,000 people along the Reñaca waterfront on Sunday afternoon, according to the governor of Valparaiso region.
Governor Jorge Martinez said in a statement broadcast by local media on Sunday night that one bullet hit a 33-year-old man in the thigh, putting him in the hospital.
A man identifying himself as Cobin said in a recorded video posted on YouTube and circulated on social media on Sunday that he fired several shots from a handgun after he was surrounded by a group of protesters on Reñaca’s waterfront as he drove to a shooting range.
“I was in fear for my life, being attacked by a violent mob,” he said in the video posted on YouTube, which has since been removed. “I did not do anything wrong. It was very dangerous, very scary time for me. Thankfully, I had my gun to be able to defend myself.”
Cobin appeared in court in Vina del Mar on Monday on a charge of attempted murder and was remanded in custody, the Chilean judicial authority posted on Twitter.
At least 23 people have been killed and more than 2,000 people hospitalized, more than 800 policemen injured and 1,089 complaints of human rights abuses filed with prosecutors since unrest over profound inequality broke out in Chile more than three weeks ago.
Businesses in the capital Santiago and around the country have suffered billions of dollars in damages and Santiago’s public transport system has been hobbled.
Reporting by Aislinn Laing; editing by Jonathan Oatis