Rome, Italy | AFP |
Italy on Friday hailed its police officer heroes who caught Berlin truck attack suspect Anis Amri on the streets of Milan, with high praise for the rookie who shot him dead.
Tributes flooded in for Luca Scata, the 29-year-old Sicilian trainee who fired off two rounds after Amri opened fire on his partner Christian Movio, 36.
Senior officers described Amri as displaying an ice-cold cool as he pulled out a pistol after the officers had asked him to empty his backpack.
But Scata, baby-faced with a trendy beard, was just as quick. After Movio was hit by a bullet in the shoulder he fired twice in quick succession, sending the suspect to the ground.
Witnesses said the two policemen had then crouched over Amri in a bid to keep him alive, but the Tunisian died after ten minutes.
Scata had only been in the police for nine months and was three months into a probationary period in Milan when he was put to the ultimate test.
The more experienced Movio was recovering in a Milan hospital after minor surgery.
He was well enough to receive visitors and paid tribute to his younger colleague in comments relayed by one of them.
“My partner’s actions were exemplary, he reacted immediately when the pistol came out,” he said.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti telephoned the officers to congratulate them and said he would be visiting them to “personally give them a hug.
“At a very young age, these extraordinary men have done a huge service to the entire community, by doing their duty.
“Italians can be proud of them, they have ensured a much happier Christmas.”
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni echoed the praise as Scata’s Facebook page was flooded with well-wishing messages from all over the world, with many demanding the government give him a medal.
At home in Sicily, his father Giuseppe Scata said he was just happy his son was alive. “He is a brave boy and he did his duty,” he told reporters.
“When we spoke to him on the telephone early this morning he still did not know that the dead boy was the attacker.”
Anis Amri, a 24-year-old failed asylum seeker who arrived first in Italy before heading to Germany, is suspected of killing 12 and wounding dozens more Monday by driving a truck into a Berlin Christmas market.