These aren’t the best of times for Cuba. The COVID-19 crisis has deepened the communist island’s crippling economic shortages. And now, a gunman shot up the outside of Cuba’s embassy in Washington early Thursday morning.
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At about 2 a.m., Washington, D.C., police say an SUV pulled up at the Cuban embassy and a man jumped out with an assault rifle. Neighbors were awakened by a hail of gunfire that tore large bullet holes across the embassy’s façade and into a statue of Cuban hero José Martí.
No one was injured. Police quickly arrested the alleged shooter: Alexander Alazo, a 42-year-old man from Aubrey, Texas. He was charged with possessing an unregistered firearm (which had a high-capacity magazine) and assault with intent to kill.
What police and Secret Service agents — who investigate crimes against diplomatic missions — say they still don’t have is a motive. (The Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon a preliminary police report suspects the attack was a hate crime.) Alazo seems to have little if any social media footprint.
The official Cuban newspaper Granma said Alazo was not on the communist government’s radar screen of anti-Cuba militants in the U.S. In tweets, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said only they were awaiting an investigation by U.S. authorities and urged them to protect embassies there.