Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to pursue justice after a former beauty queen and popular soap-opera actress was gunned down in a car with her former husband as the couple's young daughter watched.
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Monica Spear, 29, and Thomas Henry Berry, 39, were killed late Monday night by armed robbers on an isolated stretch of highway after experiencing car trouble.
Their daughter, Maya, 5, was in stable condition after treatment for a leg wound and was with relatives in Caracas, authorities said.
Police in Puerto Cabello arrested five suspects, some younger than 18, according to The Associated Press, citing Jose Gregorio Sierralta, the director of the country's investigative police.
The attack outraged Venezuelans and prompted Maduro to condemn the slayings and promise justice for Spear and Henry.
"There will be no tolerance for those who seek to carry out such actions, killing good men and women, killing men and women who have a right to life," Maduro said Tuesday. "What is your excuse? I speak here to the criminals who killed this young woman: What excuse do you have for committing murder?"
Spear and Berry are the latest causalities in a long history of violent crimes in the country. Crime in Venezuela is said to be so bad, residents often stay inside at night. The country had more than 24,000 homicides last year, one of the highest rates in the world.
"Just another victim of horrible violence going on in Venezuela. Worse than Iraq, worse than Mexico," Fusion network anchor Mariana Atencio told ABC News.
Spear was a U.S. citizen and lived in Florida, but the couple (her husband was British) was in Venezuela on vacation and to visit her sick grandmother. The former Miss Venezuela winner had taken to Twitter two days before to make a plea for people to donate blood to her grandmother.
Around 10:30 Monday night, the family was driving toward Valencia, Venezuela's third largest city, in a gray Toyota Corolla when they got two flat tires. After their car was reportedly lifted onto a tow truck, they were approached by robbers. The terrified family they locked themselves inside the car. That's when police say the assailants fired at least six shots, killing Spear and Berry.
"They fired with viciousness," Maduro said of the attackers.
In sharp contrast to the ugly violence, Spear had tweeted beautiful landscapes of the countryside from the family vacation six hours before her death.
After winning the Miss Venezuela crown in 2004, she was the fifth runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant the following year. She had acted in numerous soap operas, most recently in "Pasion Prohibida" for the U.S.-based Telemundo network.
"What made her so beloved, not Venezuela 2004 title, it was telenovela roles that she undertook after she won title," Fusion's Atencio said.
"Her most popular role was a female character that had Asperger syndrome. By undertaking [that] role she was trying to start a debate about standards of beauty."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.