Guard opens fire as man drives car into Vatican; suspect in custody

St. Anne's Gate St. Anne's Gate |

An unidentified man is in custody after driving a car at high speed through a gate at the Vatican Thursday, the Holy See press office said.

A guard stationed at the Santa Anna entrance fired his weapon in the direction of the vehicle’s front tires, hitting the left front fender, but the vehicle proceeded onto the Vatican grounds until the driver got out at the San Damaso Courtyard, the main courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the press office said. There the man was blocked and placed under arrest by the Gendarmerie Corps, the press office said.

The incident happened after 8 p.m. at one of the main entrances to Vatican City by car. It is located north of St. Peter’s Square and next to the Swiss Guard barracks. The press office said the man initially approached the entrance in his vehicle and was turned away because he lacked the proper authorization.

“Regardless of the indications provided to him by the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which prevented him from entering the State without the relative authorizations, he temporarily left the entrance and, after having maneuvered, returned at high speed, forcing the two control gates, of the Swiss Guard and of the Gendarmerie of the Vatican City State,” the press office said.

“The man, aged about 40, was immediately subjected to a visit by the doctors of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican City State, who found a serious state of psychophysical alteration,” the statement said.

“Currently the person is in a prison cell in the new premises of the Gendarmerie Barracks, at the disposal of the Judicial Authority,” the statement added.

CNA Rome correspondent Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this story.

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