The driver was found to have alcohol and drugs in his system.
Italian police were forced to open fire on a car that broke through barricades near St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday. The incident took place as thousands of pilgrims and faithful were gathering to hear Pope Francis’ weekly Angelus address.
Republic World reports that the car was driven by a 38-year-old Albanian man with a history of misdemeanors. The man allegedly refused to stop at a checkpoint on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a main central street in Rome that leads to St. Peter’s Square, at which time a chase ensued. The suspect is now in custody of the Italian police, but his motives have not been made clear.
As the driver approached St. Peter’s, he blew through another check point, at which time police officers opened fire, shooting at the vehicle’s wheels. According to Crux, the car got close enough to St. Peter’s Square that the Swiss Guard had to rush to close the main doors of the Holy Office.
Even with both front tires blown out, the driver did not stop. Switching roads, he began traveling around the Vatican on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, where he slammed into a police vehicle, injuring two officers. He then turned onto the Via Gregorio VII, where he was finally cut off by an Italian anti-terrorism unit that had been deployed.
Crux notes that there is security footage that shows police swarming the car, breaking through the windows, and subduing the man with a taser. The driver was taken to the hospital where alcohol and illicit drugs were found in his system.
While the situation was treated as a terrorist attack, authorities have found no evidence of terroristic intent. The police stated that they found no weapons or “offensive objects” in the vehicle.