Peru's former president Alan Garcia died Wednesday after shooting himself as police arrived at his home in the capital Lima to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation, local authorities and media outlets in the country reported.
The news was confirmed by Peru's President Martin Vizcarra. "Dismayed by the demise of former president Alan Garcia. I send my condolences to your family and loved ones," he said through his official Twitter account.
Garcia, 69, was immediately taken to the Casimiro Ulloa hospital. Local media also reported that medics at the hospital confirmed that he had died after they were unable to save him.
Local TV channel America reported Garcia went into a coma after undergoing emergency surgery, and broadcast images of Garcia's son and supporters arriving at the hospital.
Garcia, a skilled orator who has led Peru's once-powerful Apra party for decades, governed Peru as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning a new five-year term in 2006.
Garcia had been one of nine people a judge had ordered to be arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in bribes distributed by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America's biggest graft scandal when it admitted in 2016 that it had paid kickbacks to politicians across the region to secure lucrative contracts.
Members of his party announced his death to crowds gathered outside of hospital Casimiro Ulloa, where he suffered three cardiac arrests and underwent emergency surgery.
He had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.
"Others might sell out, not me," Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.
Interior Minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference before Garcia died that the former president had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.
"He entered his room and closed the door behind him," Moran said. "Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head."
Last year, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.
Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case. Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017-2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges last week.
A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.
All have denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.
In Peru, criminal suspects can be ordered to spend up to three years in jail before trial if prosecutors can show they have evidence that likely would lead to a conviction and the suspect would likely flee or try to interfere in the investigation.