Dominican Republic Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Orlando Jorge Mera was shot and killed in his office on Monday (June 6), AP News reports.

The 55-year-old was shot by a close friend while conducting a meeting at the Ministry of Tourism located in the country’s capital of Santo Domingo.

Authorities say that the suspect, Fausto Miguel de Jesús Cruz de la Mota, was arrested at a church located dozens of blocks away. He confessed committing the crime to a priest before handing over his weapon.

According to the family, the two men had been friends since childhood.

“Our family forgives the person who did this,” read an official statement. “One of Orlando’s greatest legacies was to not hold grudges.

Mera was the son of former Dominican Republic President Salvador Jorge-Blanco, and has served in incumbent President Luis Abinader’s administration since July 2020.

President Abinader took to Twitter to share condolences to Mera’s family and to express how deeply he regrets the death of a “good friend.”

The Director of the Government’s Cabinet for Innovation Bartolomé Pujals described Mera’s death as a tragedy and used his social media platform to urge citizens of the nation to choose peace in the wake of the news.

“His death is a tragedy,” said Pujals. “We Dominicans have to come together to achieve a pact for peace and peaceful coexistence. No more violence.”

Appointed to the minister of the environment and natural resources in August 2020, Mera was also an attorney and one of the founding members of the governing Modern Revolutionary Party. With deep family ties to politics, he leaves behind a wife– the Dominican ambassador to Brazil – as well as two sons, one of whom is a Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) lawmaker.

While the motive for the shooting still remains unclear, the suspect is currently in custody.