Prominent Venezuelan Rebel Might Be Dead Or In Custody After Shootout


Oscar Perez, a Venezuelan police pilot accused of stealing a helicopter and using it to attack the country's Supreme Court in June, was killed Monday in Caracas, a government official told CNN.

Perez, a photogenic former police officer who once starred in an action film, previous year used a hijacked helicopter to attack government buildings and stole weapons from a military base in what he called a rebellion against President Nicolas Maduro. The deaths weren't confirmed. Maduro said the targeted group was preparing a vehicle bomb attack against the embassy of an unnamed country.

Perez has been on the run since Venezuelan authorities issued an arrest warrant through Interpol after accusing him of a "terrorist attack". He now has tens of thousands of followers online and has piqued the curiosity of Venezuelans who either hail him as hero, condemn him as a criminal or question if he might be a ruse to support President Nicolas Maduro's assertion that the nation is under attack by opposition conspirators. Whoever enters the path of terrorism and turns weapons against the people will have the answer of our Armed Forces.

It was not immediately clear if Perez was among those killed, but state television reported that two police officers were gunned-down during the firefight. "They should not doubt that", he said.

During the assault Pérez was able to broadcast several videos from a house in the town of El Junquito in which he appeared wounded with blood on his face, and in which he expressed his desire to negotiate his surrender.

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Perez released videos on Instagram in which he said authorities were trying to kill him and his people even though they wanted to surrender.

"Our troops were attacked while we were negotiating the surrender of the terrorist cell".

In June 2017, Perez and several unidentified accomplices used a stolen helicopter to launch four grenades at the Supreme Tribunal in Caracas, before shooting at the interior ministry with firearms. "Now only you have power so that we can all be free", he said in an earlier video, staring into the camera and telling his children he loves them and hopes to see them again. No one was injured.

Perez appeared with a bloody face in almost a dozen dramatic Instagram videos early on Monday, saying that he was surrounded by authorities shooting at him with grenade launchers.

"We will die standing up defending our land, never kneeling before the tyrants", another of Perez's messages said.