By Abebe Gellaw
(Addis Voice) Dozens of peaceful protesters who descended on the Ethiopian Embassy, located in North West Washington D.C., to protest recent massacres in Ogaden and Gambela regions were met with gunshots in the embassy compound. U.S. Secret Service announced earlier today that it had detained a man in connection with the shooting incident.
Embassy insiders named the shooter as Solomon “Wodi Weyni”, who is said to be a security chief at the Ethiopian embassy with diplomatic status. The man is said to be a member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the core of the ruling ethnic junta.
While Shimelis Terefe, a D.C-based activist, was trying to hoist the widely popular Ethiopian flag that does not bear the emblem of the TPLF regime, Wodi Weyni started shooting without any warning. When the protesters confronted him and demanded him to put down his gun, he fired more shots threatening to kill them. According to the protesters, at least three shots were fired and a car parked nearby was hit by a bullet.
One of the protesters, Yohaness Gurmu, described the scene as chaotic when the unarmed protesters boldly confronted the security chief. “The man continued brandishing his gun and shooting towards us. But we did not disperse in fear even if he was threatening to kill us.”
Ambassador Girma Birru and a few embassy staff members reportedly came rushing and took the shooter inside the embassy building. But U.S. Secret Service agents and the police reportedly arrived on the scene within a few minutes. State Departent officials were also said to be on scene to investigate the incident.
Inside the lobby, the activists, who were holding pictures of jailed journalists and bloggers, repeatedly chanted “freedom!freedom!freedom.”
U.S. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement emailed to reporters that the agency investigated a report of shots fired around 12:15 p.m. Monday. “They detained a man believed to be the shooter,” he said.
The embassy, which was temporarily sealed off by the police, did not answer repeated phone calls.