PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that police say is holding 17 members of a kidnapped missionary group is seen in a video released, Thursday, saying he will kill them if he doesn’t get what he’s demanding.
The video posted on social media shows Wilson Joseph dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” he said in the video.
He also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Haiti’s national police chief as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.
“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, Henry’s office announced that Léon Charles had resigned as head of the National Police and was replaced by Frantz Elbé. The newspaper Le Nouvelliste said Elbé was director of the police departments of the South East and Nippes and previously served as general security coordinator of the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was provisional president.
“We would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy,” Henry said.
There was no immediate comment from Charles or Elbé.
Earlier this week, authorities said that the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the five children in the group, among them an eight-month-old. Sixteen Americans and one Canadian were abducted, along with their Haitian driver.
The missionaries are with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which held a news conference before someone posted the video of the gang leader.
Weston Showalter, spokesman for the religious group, said that the families of those who’d been kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, Canada.