Colombian student activist Lucas Villa was declared brain dead Monday night, nearly a week after being shot eight times during a peaceful protest against President Ivan Duque’s government, according to CNN Espanol, citing a statement from San Jorge de Pereira University Hospital, where he was being treated.
His death was also confirmed on social media by his family and the government on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old was one of three students shot by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles during a protest in Pereira, Colombia, on the evening of May 5.
“Continue dancing in each cloud and make everyone there happy, as you did here,” his sister, Nicole Villa wrote in a post on Instagram.
The death shocked Colombians because Villa was a well-known figure in Pereira, and doctors at San Jorge Hospital had expressed hope that he would recover from his injuries.
“We stand with the Villa family with deep sadness after the news of Lucas’ death,” Duque wrote on Twitter. “I repeat what I [said to] Mauricio, his father, that this becomes the opportunity to come together and reject violence. To the responsible [I wish] all the power of the law.”
The government is offering a reward of 100 million Colombian pesos ($27,000) in exchange for any “information to capture those responsible,” Minister of Defense Diego Molano wrote on Twitter, before expressing “all our commitment to finding those guilty for this atrocious crime.”
Last week, a candlelight vigil was held in memory of demonstrator Lucas Villa.
Colombians first took to the streets on April 28 in protest of proposed tax reforms proposed by Duque, who claimed the changes were “required to keep social programs running.”
The government has since reversed the reforms, but protests have continued in response to the security forces’ heavy-handed response to grievances.
Social media videos of anti-riot police officers using tear gas and batons against protesters have gone viral, spreading beyond major cities and across the country. Far from quelling the protests, allegations of police brutality have become a focal point for demonstrators, who are now calling for an independent, international investigation into the deaths.
According to the latest Ombudsman report, 42 people have been killed during nationwide protests in Colombia since April 28, including one police officer.
However, rights organizations such as the Colombian NGO Temblores and the US-based Human Rights Watch believe the death toll is higher, with more than 45 people killed.
Molano also stated on Twitter that 849 police officers were injured, 647 people were arrested, and 378 firearms and 72 explosive devices were seized.