A Colombian teenager died late Monday from wounds sustained by riot police who were forcefully breaking up demonstrators during the South American country’s days-long protests.
Dilan Cruz, 18, passed away at a hospital in Bogotá, the country’s capital, days after the late high school student was hit in the head by an unknown projectile used by riot police to disperse crowds during a march on Saturday.
BBC reports that Cruz, who was due to graduate high school this week, joined the massive anti-government protests sweeping the nation to call for greater access to higher education.
One of Cruz’s friends, who joined him at the march, told Colombian newspaper El Espectador that the teen was hit by the projectile while attempting to move a tear-gas canister that landed near some elder demonstrators.
“Dilan went to the front to kick back a tear-gas canister, because it had landed next to old people, that’s when he was shot at, they say it was a rubber bullet,” the friend noted.
That’s when officers shot what some have called a stun grenade, a tear-gas canister or a rubber bullet at the teen.
The youth was resuscitated by paramedics, who took him to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury caused by a “penetrating object.”
Outside of the medical center, protesters, who have now been demonstrating for six days, gathered for a vigil on Monday. Throughout the country, people have also participated in marches, shouting, “Dilan didn’t die. Dilan was killed.”
On Twitter, President Ivan Duque sent his condolences to the late teen’s mother, grandfather and two sisters while also expressing his regret for the death.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Colombia since Thursday, where they have been rallying against the socially conservative president for the rising rates of unemployment and police violence as well as economic reforms and corruption.
While the protests have been largely peaceful, with some instances of looting in Bogotá and Cali, officers have been criticized for forcefully attempting to disperse nonviolent crowds. Three people were killed during demonstrations on Thursday.
This week, Duque met with business leaders and unions, who organized the first march. He promised to have a “great national dialogue” on social issues and anti-corruption.