Dominican Republic environment minister Orlando Jorge Mera killed in his office

Close friend Miguel Cruz was later arrested at a nearby church

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The Dominican Republic’s Environment Minister Orlando Jorge Mera was shot and killed in his office on Monday, the office of the president said.

Mr Jorge Mera's close friend Miguel Cruz was later arrested at a nearby church. Authorities said he told a priest he committed a crime and handed over a gun to him.

Officials gave no motive for the shooting of Mr Jorge Mera, whose father was a former president of the Caribbean nation.

“We express our deepest condolences,” the office of President Luis Abinader said.

Shots were heard late on Monday morning, with people on the street yelling and taking cover, AP reported.

Mr Cruz had promised at the church to turn himself in if they guaranteed he would not be killed, authorities said.

Heavily armed police officers took him into custody at the church, which is about a 15-minute drive from the office where Mr Jorge Mera was shot.

When he was brought out, Mr Cruz was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest and kept his head mostly down as the glasses he wore slid slightly down his nose.

One bystander yelled: “You killed a good man! Murderer!”.

Miguel Cruz is taken into custody after Dominican Republic Environment Minister Orlando Jorge Mera was shot dead on Monday. Reuters

Powerful family headed by former president

The victim came from a powerful political family. He was the son of former Dominican President Salvador Jorge Blanco and his sister is a deputy minister in Mr Abinader’s administration. His son is a Modern Revolutionary Party legislator, of which Mr Jorge Mera was a founding member.

The family said Mr Cruz had been friends with the environment minister since childhood. It said Mr Jorge Mera was shot numerous times.

“Our family forgives the person who did this. One of Orlando’s greatest legacies was to not hold grudges,” it said.

Police and emergency officials swarmed the office of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry in the capital of Santo Domingo and barred people from entering as mourners gathered nearby.

Mr Jorge Mera's office was on the fourth floor of a building that also houses the Ministry of Tourism.

“We are troubled by the situation,” the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said.

Mr Jorge Mera, a lawyer, was appointed as environment minister in August 2020.

Updated: June 07, 2022, 8:22 AM