Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro suggested Wednesday that the murder of former beauty queen Monica Spear and her ex-husband Thomas Berry was a targeted hit and not a random robbery gone wrong.
“That assassination seems more like a contract killing,” Nicolas Maduro said.
“We have identified those involved in this assassination and we are going to look for them.”
Nicolas Maduro provided no evidence that that Monica Spear was the victim of a murder-for-hire. Police had earlier described the Monday night shooting as a botched highway heist and said they were questioning five people.
The high-profile shooting — which left Monica Spear’s 5-year-old daughter wounded — has sparked outrage over violent crime in Venezuela, which had more than 24,000 homicides last year.
Protesters, including some celebrities, held a march to demand better public safety on Wednesday.
President Nicolas Maduro called a security meeting with all the country’s governors and the mayors of 79 cities with high crime rates.
“If there’s any sense to this pain, it has to be so that we all wake up,” he said of Monica Spear’s death.
Monica Spear’s ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry, 39, an adventure tour operator, moved to the US about 15 years ago after being shot, but returned to Venezuela in 2006.
Although the couple split about two years ago, they remained closed and spent holidays and vacations together with their daughter, Maya, friends and relatives said.
They had spent the New Year on an idyllic road trip that took them from scenic Merida to the beach and to the plains, where Monica Spear, 29, who was raised on a ranch, rode horses. A video she posted to Instagram showed her blowing kisses to the camera on horseback.
After winning the title of Miss Venezuela and competing in the Miss Universe pageant, Monica Spear appeared in a half-dozen Spanish language soap operas, most recently Pasion Prohibida and Flor Salvaje on Telemundo.