Multimillionaire businessman Matthew Gibbard and his stepson Stefan Zone tackled the armed robber that shot them because they thought his weapon was fake.

The minibus driver who dropped them at a £350-a-night Buenos Aires hotel revealed they fought the assailant after nothing happened when he first pulled the trigger.

Enrique Piacampo, 40, also revealed how Mr Gibbard’s wheelchair-bound mother and his other son hugged each other after seeing their loved ones gunned down.

Speaking with Argentinian TV station Telefe he revealed how he took cover behind the vehicle’s back doors and saw how the ‘first shot didn’t come out’.

He said: ‘The passenger, thinking that the gun didn’t have any bullets, carried on tussling with the criminals. I was caught between helping or staying where I was. 

‘I have a family. I tried to take cover, I just wanted it all to be over quickly, I wanted it to be just an armed robbery. It was a very difficult moment, I was shocked.’ 

Mr Piacampo told how violence flared after he heard the words ‘maleta’ and ‘reloj’ – Spanish for ‘suitcase’ and ‘watch’ – but thought it was a hotel worker coming to help.

He said: ‘When we arrived at the hotel I opened the side door so they could out and then went to the back of the minibus to get the luggage out.

‘I was going to get the wheelchair of Mr Gibbard’s mum out first. I opened the two doors and grabbed the suitcase above a seat and the porter took it off me and went inside the hotel.

‘That’s when I heard the words ‘suitcase’ and ‘watch’ but thought it was another hotel worker coming to help with the luggage. It was the thief.’ 

Mr Piacampo told the TV station: ‘I didn’t get to see the assailant because he came from behind and I couldn’t see in front of me.

‘I realised it was an armed robbery when I saw him pointing a gun at one of the tourists.’ 

Revealing how Mr Gibbard’s distraught mother and the other son hugged each other in his vehicle after the horror attack unfolded in front of them, Mr Piacampo said: ‘I didn’t know how to hug them or what to say to them at that moment because I had a knot in my throat.

‘I never wanted the situation to end like it did. It lasted 40 seconds but if felt like a lot longer to me.’ 

Mr Gibbard, 50, died in hospital after a bullet hit him in his armpit and reached his chest. His stepson, 28, was shot in the leg but survived after an emergency operation. He is said to be out of danger.

The suspected killer, a 21-year-old Venezuelan named as Angel Eduardo Lozano Azuaje alias Cachete, was held by police on a long-distance coach in the province of Salta more than 1,000 miles north of Buenos Aires.

Detectives said he had been trying to flee to Bolivia when he was arrested.

Two other Venezuelans police say are members of a violent gang which targeted wealthy tourists like Mr Gibbard, including the suspected killer’s brother, were also held on the same coach.

These attests took the total number following Saturday’s attack to eight.

Officials said the gang that targeted the Brits was Venezuelan-led but had logistical support from Argentinians who supplied them with the motorbikes and cars they used to carry out their armed robberies.

The grey Corsa Mr Gibbard’s killer was filmed getting out of has been seized along with a motorbike which is thought to have tailed the Brits from Ezeiza International Airport to the Faena Arts Hotel in the upmarket neighbourhood of Puerto Madero where the assault took place.

Diego Santilli, Vice-President of the Buenos Aires City Government, said at a press conference on Tuesday: ‘Sixty hours after the atrocious murder of a British tourist in Puerto Madero, we have been able to resolve this murder perpetrated by a criminal gang that ‘marked’ people coming from abroad at Ezeiza International Airport and then followed them and robbed them outside their homes or hotels.

‘The City Police have managed in record time to resolve and hand these assassins over to the courts.

‘The investigating judge and the state prosecutor have acted very swiftly and facilitated the 18 searches to obtain the information necessary to ensure these criminals did not flee the country.’ 

Mr Gibbard, who collected Ferraris and flew a helicopter, could have been singled out over his expensive watch and followed from Ezeiza Airport by a ‘large gang’.

The millionaire ran a holiday and retirements homes firm called Tingdene, had travelled to Argentina for a Christmas break with his mum and wife, as well as Mr Zone and his stepson’s wife and brother.

He is thought to have arranged the holiday with a UK tour company which then hired a local firm for the airport transfer between Ezeiza a 40-minute drive from the centre of Buenos Aires and their hotel.

He lived with his wife Suzanne, 52, at a Manor House in the village of Lowick near Kettering, Northampton.  

On Monday night police arrested the alleged killer and two other people after stopping a long-distance coach in the province of Salta, more than 1,000 miles from Buenos Aires where the armed robbery took place. 

The 21-year-old Venezuelan, named locally as Angel Eduardo Lozano Azuaje, was believed to be heading for Bolivia.   

The information on the suspect’s likely whereabouts is said to have come from his girlfriend during a police interrogation. 

The operation to arrest the suspect had been given the green light by investigating judge Yamile Bernan. 

The identities of the other two people arrested last night have not yet been revealed, but both are Venezuelans.  

Another four men were already in custody, including three Argentinians accused of supplying cars and motorbikes to the alleged gang. 

The Venezuelan owner of a red Ford Fiesta which acted as a support vehicle during Saturday’s assault was also arrested. 

Last night a friend told The Times that Mr Gibbard, who was shot through the armpit on Saturday, was a ‘very nice gentleman’ who was ‘softly-spoken and very relaxed’. 

‘He was a petrol head and a big super car collector. He had at least half a dozen Ferraris. He used to fly his own helicopter too, which he kept at his home,’ said the friend, Tom Hartley.  

Marcelo d’Alessandro, Security Minister for the City of Buenos Aires, said CCTV footage had helped police identify vehicles involved in the shooting and the escape routes taken.

He said: ‘We were able to work out where they had gone and this has resulted in 18 search warrants being issued, 12 in the province of Buenos Aires and another six in the city itself.

‘Several cars and motorbikes have been seized, including a vehicle involved in the incident itself and forensic experts are now examining it for evidence.

‘Four people who formed part of this gang have been arrested. It’s a large gang. The detainees include the man who provided the gang with logistics, with the vehicles used in crimes of this type.

‘It’s not the first crime like this that the gang has carried out.’

He added that the gang would look for people arriving at the airport with expensive watches before following and robbing them.

Buenos Aires’ police chief Gabriel Berard said: ‘They detect the arrival of tourists who could become potential victims, focusing on flights reaching Argentina from the United States and Europe and then they follow people of interest to them.

‘They had a kind of placard, they would pretend to work for Uber. 

‘They have vehicles waiting outside the airport and tail them. The logistics are an important part of it.’

The gang made sure they used vehicles which the authorities had not identified as having been used in previous crimes including recently sold cars and motorbikes, he said.

He added: ‘We are analysing the vehicles that have been seized and are going to keep progressing until we can smash this gang completely.’

Diego Santilli, vice-president of the Buenos Aires City Government, told a press conference that everything was being done to make sure those responsible ‘felt the full weight of the law and received the maximum punishment’.

He said: ‘Loss of life is something that cannot be repaired, it’s irreparable. But if there’s an area where we can work, it’s to make sure there’s justice.

‘Justice is something we have to make sure is done.’

Footage showing the double shooting led to detectives identifying two support cars – a red Ford Fiesta and a grey Chevrolet Corsa Classic – believed to have been working with armed robbers on motorbikes known locally as motochorros.

The man who shot Mr Gibbard, 50, and his stepson,  28, is thought to have got out of the grey car and fired at the pair after a brief struggle involving the Britons and a man on the motorbike who fled behind the Ford Fiesta.

The head of Buenos Aires’ medical emergency response system SAME, Alberto Crescenti, confirmed the alarm was sounded at 11.04am on Saturday after the shooting in an upmarket port area known as Puerto Madero.

He added: ‘When paramedics reached the area they discovered a man who had been shot with a bullet which went through his right armpit and hit him in the chest.’

Speaking before Mr Gibbard died after reaching the city’s Argerich Hospital for an emergency op, he added: ‘He was taken to Hospital Argerich with very serious injuries and a considerable loss of blood.’

His stepson was hit in the leg near his groin.

Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez has described the murder as ‘atrocious’ and urged the police to be ‘inflexible’ in hunting down the culprits.

The hotel said in a statement: ‘We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. We will collaborate in everything necessary for the classification of such a painful act.’

Another British tourist was mugged in Buenos Aires last week by the same Venezuelan-led gang that targeted millionaire company boss Matthew Gibbard 24 hours later, it emerged today. 

The criminals are said to have used an identical modus operandi to rob the 43-year-old after he jetted into the Argentinian capital with his wife and and two daughters and took a taxi to the upmarket neighbourhood of Palermo.

One of his suspected muggers, named locally as 29-year-old Venezuelan Miguel Angel Aguirre, was arrested after bystanders intervened to stop the assault.

An accomplice managed to flee on a motorbike with an expensive Rolex watch belonging to the tourist, Argentinian media reported. 


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