A crazed driver barreled past a Vatican gate before armed guards opened fire and arrested the man once he reached a palace courtyard, the Holy See said.
The driver sped into the area on Thursday evening and Vatican gendarmes fired one shot at the car’s front tires, according to the Vatican press office.
The car made it to the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace before the driver fled from the car and was quickly taken into custody.
The driver, about 40 years old, was in a “serious state of psychophysical alteration” and was being held in the Vatican barracks.
It’s unclear where Pope Francis was when it happened around 8 p.m. at the Santa Anna gate – a main entrance to the Vatican City State.
The main gate blocking access to the Santa Martha hotel where Francis resides was quickly shut once gendarmes began to sound alarms, the Vatican said.
The Apostolic Palace houses the papal apartments, key reception rooms, the Vatican archives and offices. The Vatican City State typically is off limits to the general public except during the day for visitors who will check out St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums or for those seeking prescriptions from the Vatican pharmacy.
The area in the heart of Rome is heavily guarded with security at various checkpoints.
The last time a person with psychiatric problems caused a ruckus at the Vatican, a woman jumped a barricade during a Christmas Eve Mass in 2009 and tried to attack Pope Benedict XVI. He was not hurt, but a cardinal part of the procession broke his hip.
With Post wires
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