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Peru: Hostages Taken in Bank Robbery in Gamarra, Lima

Street where bank is located. Photo by @solopedrito.

In a still confusing sequence of events, an assailant held up [es] a bank in an area known as Gamarra [es] in Lima, holding up several customers and staffers as hostages. From around 2pm and during seven hours approximately, the development of this case kept many Peruvians glued to their radios, TVs and the Internet. And it was via internet, more specifically Twitter, that the news leaked by way of user @solopedrito who was closest to the location, he tweeted:

Gente en gamarra hay un pata que está robando un banco. amenasa con explotar una bomba about 11 hours ago via TweetDeck from here

People, in Gamarra there is a robber holding up a bank. Threatens to detonate a bomb.

@solopedrito tweeted what he witnessed, and uploaded pictures and video. Soon, journalists joined in from the same area:

@ejgarcia2 Asalto en Banco Continental jr. Hipolito Unanue- Gamarra en La Victoria. http://yfrog.com/0p99z0j about 10 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@rebecahoyos Estoy en camino a Gamarra. Si tengo alguna novedad con la toma de rehenes en el banco continental les cuento. about 10 hours ago via Snaptu.com

@ejgarcia2 Bank robbery at the Continental jr. Hipolito Unanue- Gamarra at La Victoria. http://yfrog.com/0p99z0j about 10 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@rebecahoyos On my way to Gamarra. If I have news on the hostage situation at the bank, I will let you know.. about 10 hours ago via Snaptu.com

For the website Clases de Periodismo (Journalism Classes) this coverage in real-time [es] constituted “one of the most important experiences of collaboration between Twitter citizens and Peruvian media.” From the beginning, the incessant tweeting and retweeting of the event made #gamarra a Trending Topic on Twitter for a few hours. This was pointed out by some, while others did not think it was that important.

@psicosour: Yee? RT @jfowks: RT @perucom: Asalto en Gamarra es trending topic en Twitter http://goo.gl/ALeGm #Gamarra about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck from here

@psicosour: Woho? RT @jfowks: RT @perucom: Bank robbery is trending topic on Twitter http://goo.gl/ALeGm #Gamarra about 9 hours ago via TweetDeck from here

In the midst of much misinformation about the events, no one was certain how many attackers and hostages [es] were involved. Many doubted the information about the situation that was taking place inside the bank, the police work and the rumors that emerged. While others considered it was important to provide news, others said it was confusing matters and making the police work harder, or criticized the reporters’ ethics and responsibilities:

juan_delgado cc @elcomercio @perucom RT: @franco626: Secuestradores logran demostrar que a periodistas “serios” en realidad les gusta el morbo about 10 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @Plan_F: Eso ya es cojudazo… ya es exceso! RT @jgranados: en Terra están pasando la posición de los francotiradores #Gamarra about 10 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @JotaC: A ver, dar información a quienes están cometiendo un delito es complicidad, no? A ver si meten presos a estos idiotas about 9 hours ago via Echofon

RT @timpanoperu Bueno, una vez + se confirma el pesimo nivel d la prensa peruana, no informa, morbosa e inclusive complice!!! #Gamarra about 9 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @larepublica_pe: No se sabe el número exacto de rehenes en el banco, se habla de entre 8 y 14 personas http://goo.gl/FbzyW #Gamarra about 8 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @omar_gavidia: @solopedrito informa que los saqueos en Gamarra son falsos… about 7 hours ago via Echofon

NinaGoya Se sorprenden de q la prensa suelte “detalles” q puedan entorpecer el rescate, si sabemos q son amarillistas, les importa vender no informar about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck

juan_delgado cc @elcomercio @perucom RT: @franco626:  attackers manage to demonstrate that even ‘serious’ journalists prefer morbid stories about 10 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @Plan_F: This is atrocious, it is too much! RT @jgranados: on Terra someone is announcing the sniper positions. #Gamarra about 10 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @JotaC: let’s see, to provide information to those who are committing a crime is complicity, right? Let’s prosecute these idiots about 9 hours ago via Echofon

RT @timpanoperu Well, one more time it is confirmed how low Peruvian news media is, it does not inform, it is morbid and even aids criminals…#Gamarra about 9 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @larepublica_pe: No one knows exactly how many hostages there are, there’s talk of 8 or 14. http://goo.gl/FbzyW #Gamarra about 8 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @omar_gavidia: @solopedrito is saying that the robbery in Gamarra is not true… about 7 hours ago via Echofon

NinaGoya you are surprised that the news release gives “details” that could worsen the rescue effort, we know they are sensationalists, it’s more important to sell than to inform about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck

A short time before 9pm, it was known that it was only one robber [es] that was inside. After several failed talks [es], the police decided to clear out the surrounding businesses, make onlookers, news groups and relatives of the hostages step back, and act. In an instant when the robber went to look out of a window, a sniper shot him [es] in the head and the hostages were then freed. Within minutes the news were being transmitted on local television.

RT: @RPPNoticias: En Vivo:Personal policial ingresan al banco Continental en Gamarra y comienza la salida de rehenes http://bit.ly/9Hvk8A about 5 hours ago via Echofon

Cierto RT: @javi270270: Periodismo PERU! RT @Plan_F: Aguanta man, esas imágenes del 5 son muy crudas… no seas pendejo! about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @larepublica_pe: Imágenes muestran que el secuestrador tenía explosivos en el cuerpo. #Gamarra (Vía Panamericana) about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @perucom: SANOS Y SALVOS. Liberan a rehenes y muere secuestrador del Banco Continental en #Gamarra http://goo.gl/FhxAg about 4 hours ago via Echofon

Plan_F Sres. periodistas, lo mataron, chévere, de ahí a q vengan como TODOPODEROSOS a querer q aprobemos imágenes q están d más, vete a la mierda about 4 hours ago via TweetDeck

RT: @fatimatv: Como no van a matar a un pobre diablo que priva de su libertad a gente y que està a punto de explotar una bomba. Bien hecho about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @NinaGoya: #TRUE RT @gonmipaa: Qué lástima realmente. Ninguna muerte es para celebrarse :( about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @RPPNoticias: live: police personnel entered the Gamarra branch of Continental Bank and the hostages were freed. http://bit.ly/9Hvk8A about 5 hours ago via Echofon

Cierto RT: @javi270270: Periodismo PERU! RT @Plan_F: can you believe it, those images from channel 5 are too graphic… don’t be stupid! about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @larepublica_pe: images show that the robber had explosives on his body. #Gamarra (Vía Panamericana) about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @perucom: SAFE AND SOUND. Hostages were freed and the robber dies at Continental Bank in#Gamarra http://goo.gl/FhxAg about 4 hours ago via Echofon

Plan_F Journalists, they killed him, nice, but you behave like you’re the ALL-POWERFUL and want us to approve the images you show, it is too much, go to hell about 4 hours ago via TweetDeck

RT: @fatimatv: why should they not kill a poor devil that takes others’ freedom and threatens to explode a bomb. Well done about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @NinaGoya: #TRUE RT @gonmipaa: how sad really. No death should be celebrated. :( about 4 hours ago via Echofon

Certainly the images transmitted were, to say the least, shocking. You could see the robber on the floor, bleeding, still alive; just as one of the 33 hostages’ [es] clothes was bloodied, product of a bullet injury on the hip. The body of the robber showed an object that was presumably [es] explosives, but according to police they were fake. Although, a bag did contain a bomb that was later deactivated. However, we must wait a little longer to know what actually took place, in the meantime, Twitter users continue to speculate:

RT: @milanta: La bomba en el maletín era enorme. Si explotaba la tragedia sería impresionante. #gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @sandro_medina: Pese al punto final, todo sigue algo confuso #Gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

martinhidalgo En América Noticias informan que el cuerpo del secuestrador fue llevado a la morgue. En RPP que está vivo. Seguimos en lo mismo de la tarde, about 3 hours ago via HootSuite

Y bueno, ¿eran varios asaltantes y sólo se quedo uno? ¿así lograron escapar los otros? ¿el dinero? #gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

juancarloslujan Ese ladrón era medio extraño: Pedía helicóptero, US$ 2 millones y portaba bomba con detonante color rojo. ¿Lo vieron en TV? about 5 hours ago via Seesmic twhirl

@jaimedelcastill @Danyv21 Evidentemente, VENDIÉNDOSE A TRAVÉS D UNA VENTANA lo k nunca hace un DELINCUENTE PROFESIONAL Y AVEZADO … uhmmmmmm about 3 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to Danyv21

RT: @milanta: the bomb in the bag was huge. If it had exploded, the tragedy would have been impressive. #gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

RT: @sandro_medina: despite the ending, everything is still somewhat confusing #Gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

martinhidalgo América Noticias informs that the body was taken to the morgue. On RPP that he is still alive. We’re the same as in the afternoon., about 3 hours ago via HootSuite

Well, were there several robbers and only one remains?  Is this how the others managed to escape? [what about] the money? #gamarra about 3 hours ago via Echofon

juancarloslujan that robber was strange: he asked for a helicopter, USD 2 million and kept a red colored bomb. Did you see that on TV? about 5 hours ago via Seesmic twhirl

@jaimedelcastill @Danyv21 clearly, SELLING HIMSELF THROUGH THE WINDOW, something a PROFESSIONAL CRIMINAL would never do… uhmmmm. about 3 hours ago via TweetDeck in reply to Danyv21

Reporter and blogger Sandro Medina from the blog Letra Suelta [es], took the time in the midst of the news to write something that many know but is still not public knowledge in countries with wide digital divides such as Peru:

Fue un “tuitero” que aprovechó su dominio básico sobre tecnología (móvil y redes sociales) y su afán por transmitir información, … ¿Recuerdan la noticia La foto más cercana del accidente de avión en el rio Hudson tomada por un Twittero? Ya pasó casi dos años y hasta hoy se sigue comentando este hecho en las diferentes charlas sobre periodismo y redes sociales. … Twitter se afianza como fuente de noticias. Es innegable el flujo impresionante de información que transita por esta red.

It was a Twitter user that took advantage of his basic knowledge of mobile technology and social networks and kept us informed… remember the news The closest picture of the airplane accident on the Hudson river taken by a Twitter user? That was almost two years ago and today this fact is still being commented in various journalistic chats and social networks. Twitter becomes a news source. It is hard to avoid the impressive flow of information that goes through that site.

Finally @solopedrito, the Twitter user Sandro Medina refers to, came out on a nightly TV show describing how and why he chose to become a citizen journalist. Also, he talked to people [es] from Clases de Periodismo (Journalism Classes), where he told of how and from which cellphone he offered his informative coverage. Later, from his home, he tweeted:

Gracias a todos aquellos que escribieron sobre mi tambien en sus blogs y creanme solo quise infomar, perdon si les molesto algo que puse about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

Thanks to those who also wrote about me in their blogs and believe me all I wanted to do was to inform, sorry if what I wrote bothered or offended anyone. about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck
Post originally written in Globalizado on December 3. The photo used is by @solopedrito from Yfrog.

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