2 Italian officers shot blocks away Prime Minister's office in Rome during swearing-in


New Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) and vice Prime Minister Angelino Alfano attend the swearing in ceremony of the new government at Quirinale palace on April 28, 2013 in Rome, Italy.


Giorgio Cosulich

Two Italian police officers were shot and wounded blocks away from the Prime Minister's office in Rome as the new premier, Enrico Letta, was being sworn in. 

At about 11:30 a.m., around the same time Prime Minister Letta was taking his oath at the Quirinal presidential office, a suspect named Luigi Preiti "fired several shots" at officers and then shouted, "shoot me, shoot me."

He was reportedly targetting politicians, but was unable to gain access to them so shot police officers instead. A pregnant woman passing through the area was also injured in the exchange of fire, according to the Guardian

The 49-year-old, who is from the southern region of Calabria, was initially reported to have mental health issues, but his family has said he does not, and that they were shocked by the attack.

He also has no prior convictions. 

Preiti had reportedly separated from his wife, as well as "lost his job, he had lost everything," said Prosecutor Pierfilippo Laviani, BBC News reported.

"He has confessed everything. He doesn't seem to be a deranged individual," Laviani said. 

An AP television producer reported seeing one of the officers lying on the pavement with blood pouring out of his neck.

“I heard seven or eight shots,” RAI reporter Enrica Agostini told The New York Times. “I was pushed back into Palazzo Chigi, the police was screaming, ‘it’s an attack, it’s an attack.'”

The shooting occurred in a crowded square about a mile from the PM's office. Witnesses said Preiti was wearing a dark suit, and approached police saying "shoot me, shoot me" before taking out a gun and firing.  

The swearing-in of Letta, the Democratic Party Deputy Leader, signals the end of a two-month political deadlock and also a generational shift in the country’s politics, Bloomberg wrote.

"It's not an act of terrorism but certainly the [political] climate of the past few months has not helped," Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno said after the shooting, according to the BBC. 

Letta, 46, is the head of a "grand coalition" that includes Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party.

In taking the oath of office at the presidential palace, he became Italy's third-youngest premier since World War II.

He also named a record seven women to his 21-member Cabinet, including former European Union commissioner Emma Bonino as foreign minister.

He also appointed Bank of Italy veteran Fabrizio Saccomanni as finance minister.