Friday November 24, 2006

Armed cartoonist storms El Nuevo Herald


Earlier today, an El Nuevo Herald cartoonist, Jose Varela, came to the office camoed up and armed with what appears to be a submachine gun. He took control of executive editor Humberto Castelló‘s office and trashed it. He had this to say (translated from Spanish):

You know that the newspaper lasts little today. This little problem is over now. This is a pig sty and somebody needs to pay, somebody has to do it, because this is how you clean shit. It’s about time, now that they’re mocking people. Today they’re going to see it as violence. But somebody has to pay and that is going to be Castello.

The news room was evacuated, and a swat team’s been called in. Herald report.

Update: From the Reuters report (emphasis added):

El Nuevo reporter Rui Ferreira said in a blog that he had spoken to the gunman, who told him, “You are speaking to the new director of the newspaper and I am going to unmask all of the true conflicts in the newspaper.”

Varela called the paper a “pigsty”, said it made fun of the Cuban exile community in Miami and that the paper paid poorly.

“They’ve been making fun of people long enough and today they will see it end in violence. But someone has to pay and that person is going to be (Humberto) Castello.” he said, referring to the Spanish-language paper’s executive editor.

Ferreira said Varela had been in the newsroom a week ago and told former colleagues he had bought himself a sawn-off shotgun and an Uzi submachine gun because he felt unsafe in Jupiter, a Florida town he moved to after his recent divorce.

Update (2:45pm): Police just arrested the guy. Nobody hurt. The update is at the original Herald link, along with a picture of Varela.

Update (11-25-06): OK, the machine gun was a toy(!), although he also had a knife. The “Herald report” link above now has a detailed account of how everything happened (not sure how I feel about them completely rewriting the story as it happens). It seems pretty clear that what we had here was a crazy guy going crazy. Check out a transcript where he compares himself to Rosa Parks at Herald Watch. And at the Pulp, Bob had this to say (after quoting the same “he shoulda grabbed Fiedler” comment from Babalu that Rick jumped on):

I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but I’m starting to think there needs to be some kind of town hall meeting with Fiedler, other newspaper editors and reporters, Cuban exile leaders, and anybody else interested in these issues. Stick Michael Putney in there to moderate. Start it at 7:30 and let it last until the wee hours if it has to.

One thing’s for sure: for better or worse, this has definitely piqued some interest in Varela’s work.

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  1. NicFitKid    Fri Nov 24, 03:07 PM #  

    He felt unsafe in Jupiter? So he bought a sawed-off and an Uzi? WTF?!?

  2. Verticus    Fri Nov 24, 04:58 PM #  


  3. jayd    Sun Nov 26, 01:51 AM #  

    Yup, another creative dude pushed over the edge by his peers.