The Latest: Teens’ schools react to officer’s Rome killing

U.S. & World

People arrive to pay respect in the church where Carabinieri officer Mario Cerciello Rega was laid in state, in Rome, Sunday, July 28, 2019. In a statement Saturday, Carabinieri officers investigating the death of Cerciello Rega, 35, said two young American tourists have been detained for alleged murder and attempted extortion. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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ROME (AP) — The Latest on two California teenagers detained in the fatal stabbing of a police officer in Rome (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

A high school and a community college in California have issued statements about the two American teenagers who are being held in the slaying of a police officer in Italy.

J.C. Farr, principal of Tamalpais High School north of San Francisco, confirmed 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth and 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder graduated in 2018.

Farr said Sunday: “We were stunned to learn that two members of our community were arrested in connection to the killing of a policeman in Rome” and “can add no additional information, other than offering sincere condolences to the family and friends who lost a loved one in this tragic situation.”

A spokeswoman for Santa Barbara City College, Luz Reyes-Martin, said Natale-Hjorth had just finished his first year at the junior college but there was no record of Elder “having been actively enrolled” there.


5:10 p.m.

Italians are lining up outside a Rome church to pay respects to a 35-year-old Carabinieri police officer who was fatally stabbed days after returning from his honeymoon.

Two American teenagers, both from California, are in custody for the slaying Friday of officer Mario Cerciello Rega. He was knifed on a street while looking into an alleged drug deal gone wrong that allegedly involved the teens.

While Cerciello Rega is being remembered as a hero in Italy, the Carabinieri also were put on the defensive after Italian newspapers published a photo of 18-year-old suspect Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth illegally blindfolded at a police station.

Some prominent Italians say they worry the photo might ultimately aid the defense and thwart justice.


3:05 p.m.

An Italian police commander says an American teenager who is under investigation for a police officer’s slaying in Rome was “illegally blindfolded” briefly before his interrogation.

Carabinieri Provincial Cmdr. Francesco Gargaro told The Associated Press in a phone interview Sunday that 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth was blindfolded “for a very few minutes, four or five” on Friday before he was questioned about the fatal stabbing of officer Mario Cerciello Rega.

Italian newspapers published a photo of Natale-Hjorth blindfolded with what appears to be a scarf and with his arms handcuffed behind his back in a room at a police station.

He and another American, 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder, remain jailed as suspects in the officer’s killing.

Cerciello Rega was stabbed eight times on a street close to the teens’ upscale hotel in Rome.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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