San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Security officials freeze new gun permits for foreigners after cop killing

Costa Rica´s Public Security Ministry suspended the issuance of new gun permits to foreigners Wednesday, according to national media reports.

The move came on the heels of a shootout Tuesday between Jamaican assailants and Costa Rican police in the western San José suburb of Escazú, in which 30-year-old Judicial Investigation Police officer Randall Mauricio López was shot dead, the daily La Nación reported.

The deadly firefight started at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday a block and a half north of the cemetery of San Antonio de Escazú. The assailants also are suspected of involvement in the Oct. 29 murder of Milena Madriz, a 20-year-old university student, in the eastern San José neighborhood of Los Yoses.

The news comes amid a string of reports that point to an unprecedented rise in murders in Costa Rica. According to a report released last month by the United Nations Development Program, homicides here nearly doubled in eight years, rising from six per 100,000 people in 2000 to 11 per 100,000 in 2008 (TT, Oct. 23).

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