Haitian Pastor Says No One 'Exempt From the Violence' After President's Assassination

A pastor of a Haitian church in Boston said that "no one is exempt from the violence" after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, 53, was assassinated in his home early Wednesday.

The attack on Moïse, announced by Haiti's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, has rattled the nation that shares an island with the Dominican Republic, and shocked international leaders. Pastor Dieufort Fleurissaint, 59, said he contacted family, friends and pastors in Haiti to ensure they do not leave their homes out of safety concerns, according to the Associated Press.

"To kill and assassinate a president in his home just shows the level of insecurity in the country and how no one is exempt from the violence," said Fleurissaint. "It's unacceptable."

He partakes in a weekly morning prayer call with pastors in Haiti and said Wednesday's call was centered on the assassination. He said the pastors are "afraid for their lives."

"The situation is dire. We're praying for peace in Haiti," Fleurissaint added. He is also the head of a Haitian advocacy group in Boston.

It is not yet clear who is responsible for Moïse's killing. First lady Martine Moïse was hospitalized after sustaining a gunshot wound in the attack.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse
A Haitian pastor said "no one is exempt from the violence" following Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's assassination. In this photo, Moïse speaks during a military parade to commemorate Battle of Vertieres Day, n Port-au-Prince on November 18, 2019. Valerie Baeriswyl/AFP via Getty Images

Moïse's drew shock and condemnation from leaders in other parts of the world Wednesday, along with calls for calm and unity in Haiti.

The troubled Caribbean nation has grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled in recent years.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned what he called a "heinous act." He told reporters before departing the White House on Marine One: "We need a lot more information but it is very worrisome about the state of Haiti."

"We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti. We condemn this heinous act," Biden said in a statement. "The United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti, and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti."

Other initial reactions reflected concern about Haiti's security.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the assassination "in the strongest terms" and stressed that "the perpetrators of this crime must be brought to justice," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The secretary-general calls on all Haitians to preserve the constitutional order, remain united in the face of this abhorrent act and reject all violence," Dujarric said. "The United Nations will continue to stand with the government and the people of Haiti."

Colombian President Iván Duque described the assassination as a "cowardly act" and also expressed solidarity with Haiti. He called for an urgent mission by the Organization of American States "to protect democratic order."

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, tweeted that "this crime carries a risk of instability and (a) spiral of violence."

Boston has one of the largest Haitian communities in the U.S. where Fleurissaint said he's worried about reprisals and further unrest in Haiti following the president's assassination.

Fleurissaint has lived in the U.S. since he was 18.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was "shocked and saddened at the death of President Moïse."

"Our condolences are with his family and the people of Haiti," he added. "This is an abhorrent act and I call for calm at this time."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez condemned the assassination.

"I'd like to make an appeal for political unity to get out of this terrible trauma that the country is going through," Sánchez said during a visit to Latvia.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen offered her condolences in a statement on Twitter.

"We wish the First Lady a prompt recovery, & stand together with our ally Haiti in this difficult time," Tsai wrote. Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

 Haitian President Jovenel Moise
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in an attack early Wednesday, July 7, 2021, and first lady Martine Moïse was shot and hospitalized. In this Feb. 7, 2020, file photo, Moise arrives for an interview at his home in Petion-Ville. Dieu Nalio Chery/AP Photo