Discuss as:

7 'Bloodsuckers' arrested in murder of Venezuelan TV star: cops

Chaiwat Subprasom / Reuters, file

Monica Spear, a soap-opera star in her native Venezuela, and her ex-husband were shot dead after an attempted robbery.

Seven members of a gang called "The Bloodsuckers" have been arrested in the murder of former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband, who were gunned down in front of their 5-year-old daughter, officials said Thursday.

As mourners gathered for a wake for Spear at a Caracas cemetery chapel, police said they are looking for four more suspects tied to the cabal, which is called "Los Sanguinarios de El Cambur" in Spanish.

The shooting Monday night on a highway near Valencia sparked outrage over rampant crime and a celebrity-led march to demand better security.

Police blamed the shooting on a highway near Puerto Cabello on a botched robbery attempt, although President Nicolas Maduro, under pressure to curb random violence, suggested it was a targeted hit.

Spear's family has said they tried to persuade the telenovela star to leave Venezuela after she was robbed six times. Friends of her ex-husband, Thomas Henry Berry, said he moved to Florida after being shot 15 years ago but was lured back by the country's natural beauty.

Berry, 39, who was born in England but moved to Venezuela as a child, ran an adventure tour company. Though he and Spear divorced two years ago, they remained close and spent holidays and vacations together for the sake of their daughter, Maya.

The little girl was wounded in the leg during the shooting but survived.

Police said the family's Toyota Corolla ran over a spike placed on the highway and got two flats. After the tow truck arrived, so did the gunmen, and they opened fire on the vehicle.

Investigators told reporters the tow truck driver and his assistant were questioned. One testified, according to local news reports, that he ran to seek help for over a mile. The other reportedly said that he hid in the woods fearing for his life.

Spear won the 2004 Miss Venezuela title and represented her homeland in the Miss Universe pageant before launching an acting career. She appeared in a half-dozen Spanish language soap operas, most recently "Pasion Prohibida" and "Flor Salvaje" on Telemundo.

"She was a person with dreams, and a person who worked really hard for what she wanted," said her brother, Ricardo Spear Mootz.