Vatican gendarmes shot at a vehicle’s tires Thursday after an unidentified man in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration” rushed through a Vatican gate and into a palace courtyard, where authorities arrested him.
The Holy See said in a news release that authorities arrested the man, who is in his 40s, and immediately subjected him to a visit by the doctors of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene of the Vatican City State.
“Currently, the person is in a prison cell in the new premises of the Gendarmerie Barracks, at the disposal of the Judicial Authority,” according to the statement obtained by The National Catholic Registry.
The driver pushed through the Santa Anna entrance around 8 p.m., after which a guard fired his gun at the vehicle’s tires, hitting the left front fender until the man exited the vehicle at the San Damasco Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace and was placed under arrest by the Gendarmerie Corps, the press office said.
Vatican officials said authorities initially turned away the man when he first approached the gate to enter the Vatican City State in Rome.
“Regardless of the indications provided to him by the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which prevented him from entering the State without the relative authorizations, he temporarily left the entrance and, after having maneuvered, returned at high speed, forcing the two control gates, of the Swiss Guard and of the Gendarmerie of the Vatican City State,” the press office said.
It was unclear if Pope Francis was near the incident, The Associated Press reported, noting that the pope lives on the other side of Vatican City at the Santa Marta hotel, where he would typically be having dinner at that time of night.
Vatican authorities reportedly shut the main gate in front of Francis’ hotel as soon as the gendarmes sounded the alarm for an incursion, according to The Associated Press.
In 2009, a woman was removed by Vatican guards after she breached a barrier and grabbed the vestments of Pope Benedict XVI while he walked down the main aisle of the church during a Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
The pope did not suffer any injuries in the 2009 incident and resumed the service after attendants helped him stand up, but the disturbance caused a cardinal walking in the procession to break his hip.