Authorities say an argument between a cop and three of his colleagues apparently led the officer to shoot and kill all three of them Monday at police headquarters in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the AP reports. The officer, identified by Puerto Rican newspaper El Vocero as 50-year-old Guarionex Candelario Rivera, allegedly shot to death his boss, Lt. Luz Soto Segarra, 49, as well as Cmdr. Frank Roman Rodriguez, 49, and 42-year-old policewoman Rosario Hernandez de Hoyos, per the New York Daily News and the AP. The suspect was holding the three captive and cops were about to begin hostage negotiations when he killed his co-workers, a police spokeswoman tells the AP. "There are no words to describe this tragedy where three colleagues have lost their lives," Associate Superintendent Juan Rodriguez Davila said via a post on the Puerto Rico PD's Twitter page, per CNN. "Our condolences for the families."
Puerto Rico's police department, said by the AP to be the second largest in a US jurisdiction, has already been the subject of much scrutiny: Earlier this year, Mother Jones called it "America's worst police force" for its "long record of corruption, shootings, and impunity," while Latin Correspondent labels the "beleaguered entity" as being rife with officers who aren't trained well and are paid little, and some of whom use the department to "establish and maintain their own criminal network." The suspect, who was arrested and is now in custody, was said to have worked in the department's anti-drug division, the AP notes. Authorities also had to evacuate the station to check out reports of an explosive device in the suspect's car, the news agency adds. (The Justice Department has been after this department for some time.)