Four die as gas grenade sets off student stampede in Bolivia

Four women are killed and 83 are injured in stampede when ‘university officials’ set off gas grenade during crowded assembly in Bolivia

  • Four students – all females – died  and 83 others were injured during a stampede at Tomas Frías Autonomous University in Potosí, Bolivia, on Monday
  • Students were gathering to elect the new student body when a gas grenade was tossed toward the crowded gym floor 
  • Manfred Flores, Mauricio Quintanilla, Milton Fuentes and Ariel Quispe are being investigated for homicide and possession of a gas grenade
  • Authorities said Flores was the person who threw the grenade into the crowd  

Four students were killed in a stampede after a tear gas grenade was set off during the middle of an assembly inside a university arena in Bolivia.

Authorities said 83 students were injured as they attempted to flee the building at Tomas Frías Autonomous University in the mountainous city of Potosí on Monday.

Some of the students were treated for fractures and least five students were in intensive care.

Potosí prosecutor Roxana Choque told reporters that the students’ deaths was caused by asphyxiation due to the inhalation of gas.

As of Tuesday, the only victim identified was Raisa Vania Colque, a 23-year-old civil engineering major.

Students run for cover inside an arena at Tomas Frías Autonomous University after a gas grenade was tossed into the crowded floor 

Students had gathered at a campus arena at Tomas Frías Autonomous University to elect new leaders of the student body

Manfred Flores (top left), Ariel Quispe (top right), Mauricio Quintanilla (bottom left) and Milton Fuentes (bottom right) were taken into custody Monday in connection to their roles in the stampede that left four students dead and 83 others injured at Tomas Frías Autonomous University in Bolivia. Authorities say Flores tossed a gas grenade into the crown during the assembly that was held to elect new student body leaders

Tomas Frías Autonomous University rector Tomas Frías University Rector Pedro López told Radio Panamericana that the students had gathered to elect new student body leaders at the school before the tragic events unfolded.

‘In the middle of the assembly, a tear gas grenade was detonated, which created a stampede,’ he said. ‘Many students were trampled.’

Police took four suspects into custody after the incident, including Manfred Flores, 25, who was identified as having tossed the grenade into the crowded hall.

‘He is the person who had launched this artifact,’ a Potosí police chief said Tuesday after the defendants were paraded before the press. 

‘We are awaiting for the expert opinion regarding the gunpowder in the hands of this device in the hand of this citizen to confirm the actions of this person.’

The Bolivian police paraded Mauricio Quintanilla, Ariel Quispe, Milton Fuentes and Manfred Flores before the press Tuesday, a day after they were arrested for their role in a stampede that left four students dead and 83 others injured

An assembly was held inside a gym at Tomas Frías Autonomous University on Monday and was interrupted after a gas grenade was tossed into the crowd

Mauricio Quintanilla, Ariel Quispe, Milton Fuentes and Manfred Flores have been arrested by Bolivian authorities for their role in the stampede that killed four students and injured 83 others during an assembly at Tomas Frías Autonomous University on Monday

Flores, Mauricio Quintanilla, 25; Milton Fuentes, 35; and Ariel Quispe, 40, are being investigated for homicide and possession of a gas grenade. 

Quintanilla holds the executive secretary position for business administration department’s student union and was ‘mainly responsible for the events.’

Mendoza, the president of the electoral committee, organized the assembly. 

Investigators learned the four defendants obtained the grenade early Monday and were looking into how they obtained it.

Bolivian police commander general Jhonny Aguilera revealed that four suspects met together Monday around 1am and were in Quispe’s car when the grenade was placed in a backpack that was brought into the gym before it was thrown into the crowd. 

It’s unknown if any of the suspects has a family member who is a member of the police force or in the military, and may have provided one them the gas grenade. 

‘It is not easy (to find the gas grenade for sale), it is not for private use,’ a police official said, as quoted by La Razón. ‘We are investigating to determine who has sold (that device).’

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