An Italian policeman who was allegedly killed by two teenage American tourists was stabbed 11 times with a knife carried into Italy from the United States, according to police in Rome.
Gen. Francesco Gargaro, of the Provincial Carabinieri Command, said the weapon was brought to the country by the 19-year-old suspect, Finnegan Lee Elder.
Gargaro added that some of the wounds sustained by the fallen officer, Mario Cerciello Rega, were “very big, 17 centimeters (7 inches) deep, the length of the blade.”
Rega was killed Friday in Rome shortly after returning to work from his honeymoon. The 35-year-old was attempting to recover a backpack allegedly stolen by Elder and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 18, after a botched drug deal, say officers. Police said that Elder confessed in the early hours of the interrogation on Friday to the killing.
Meanwhile, Rega’s funeral was held in his hometown of Somma Vesuviana, near Naples, on Monday. His casket was draped with the Italian flag as it was carried into the same church where he was married less than two months ago.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who has called for life prison sentences for the accused teens, attended the service.
The officer’s death has gripped Italy – the story is leading many of its newspaper headlines – and hundreds of people gathered outside the church to pay their respects.
The incident unfolded after the two US citizens approached a man about buying drugs, according to police. After being sold crushed aspirin instead of cocaine, officers allege that the Americans stole a backpack off the man.
The teenagers subsequently answered the owner’s cellphone, which they had also taken, and told him “they would not return the backpack without 100 euros ($111) and 1 gram of cocaine,” police added.
The owner of the stolen bag then contacted the police and two unarmed plainclothes officers met the American suspects under the guise of retrieving it, police said.