.- This morning the Vatican woke up to the sad news that a member of its police force, Alessandro Benedetti, aged 26, had been gravely wounded by a gunshot wound to the head.
Benedetti was rushed to Santo Spirito Hospital, where he died from the apparent suicide attempt at around 9:00am.
According to a statement from the Holy Seeâs press office director, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, â[a] note found on the scene is currently being studied by Vatican magistratesâ while they await the results of an autopsy.
Fr. Lombardi also noted that â[Alessandroâs] behavior had not, until now, given cause for concernâ and that he had passed âthe usual psychological aptitude selection process,â as well as â[the tests] concerning the handling of weaponsâ this past April.
While Benedetti's death has aroused memories of the 1998 Swiss Guard tragedyâwhen a corporal in the Swiss Guard killed the Swiss Guard commander and his wife before turning his gun on himselfâit seems that the motivations are quite different.
ANSA news is reporting that the Benedettiâs death could be the result of his distress over a recent break-up with his girlfriend. On the other hand, the 1998 murder-suicide was caused, according to the Vatican, by Corporal Cedric Tornay being passed over for a promotion.
Pope Benedict has reportedly learned of Alessandro Benedettiâs death and expressed his great sadness. Fr. Lombardi said that, âHe entrusts young Alessandro to the mercy of God, and remains spiritually close to the Benedetti family and to the members of the Gendarmerie."
The Gendarme is a branch of the Vaticanâs police force that ensures the safety of Vatican City, but is separate from the famous Swiss Guard, which serves as the Popeâs personal protection force. The Gendarme consists of 130 highly-trained police that are usually drawn from Italian anti-terrorism forces.