November 11, 2019 / 8:05 PM / a month ago

Man held on remand in Chile over protest shooting

(This November 11 story changes headline and adds eight paragraph to reflect Cobin’s renunciation of U.S. citizenship)

By Aislinn Laing

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A man was remanded in custody in a Chilean seaside town on Monday after being charged with attempted murder over the alleged shooting of a protester on Sunday, according to prosecutors.

John Cobin, 56, fired “three or four” shots during a protest of around 5,000 people along the Reñaca waterfront on Sunday afternoon, according to the governor of Valparaiso region.

Governor Jorge Martinez said in a statement broadcast by local media on Sunday night that one bullet hit a 33-year-old man in the thigh, putting him in the hospital.

A man identifying himself as Cobin said in a recorded video posted on YouTube and circulated on social media on Sunday that he fired several shots from a handgun after he was surrounded by a group of protesters on Reñaca’s waterfront as he drove to a shooting range.

“I was in fear for my life, being attacked by a violent mob,” he said in the video posted on YouTube, which has since been removed. “I did not do anything wrong. It was very dangerous, very scary time for me. Thankfully, I had my gun to be able to defend myself.”

Cobin appeared in court in Vina del Mar on Monday on a charge of attempted murder and was remanded in custody, the Chilean judicial authority posted on Twitter.

Cobin is originally from South Carolina in the United States and once ran for a congressional seat as a libertarian.

He renounced his U.S. citizenship in December 2015 and is no longer an American citizen, according to a State Department official.

At least 23 people have been killed and more than 2,000 people hospitalized, more than 800 policemen injured and 1,089 complaints of human rights abuses filed with prosecutors since unrest over profound inequality broke out in Chile more than three weeks ago.

Businesses in the capital Santiago and around the country have suffered billions of dollars in damages and Santiago’s public transport system has been hobbled.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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