Well-known Honduran journalist killed in coordinated attack in San Pedro Sula

This story has been updated to include the detention of 18 people in connection with Igor Padilla's murder.

Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez, a well-known Honduran journalist, was killed in San Pedro Sula on Jan. 17.

La Prensa reported that the 38-year-old journalist received a call to leave a shop where he was filming a commercial. When he left, four people began to shoot him. The newspaper added that bullets from an AR-15 rifle were found at the scene and that initial reports indicated the attackers used bulletproof vests and wore masked hoods. According to AFP, they were dressed as police.

Witnesses said they heard 20 shots and a doctor quoted by La Prensa said Padilla was shot multiple times.

Padilla was a reporter for Canal Hable Como Habla (HCH) in San Pedro Sula and covered night police patrols, according to AFP. He also had a comedy program on HCH called “Los Verduleros.”

Undoubtedly, because of his affable character and knack for people, he was known to win the affections of thousands of Hondurans who followed him on the small screen,” La Tribuna reported.

The journalist had also produced a movie and was filming another about violence against journalists, according to La Prensa’s reporting.

AFP said that the cause of the attack on Padilla was unknown. However, La Prensa said that the journalist had reportedly received a written death threat.

On Jan. 18, national police said that eighteen people, allegedly members of the Mara 18, were detained in Padilla's murder, according to La Tribuna.

The publication also reported that two people confessed to participating in the attack and that one of the detained women made the call to Padilla asking him to leave the shop prior to him being killed.

Honduras’ Security Secretary previously said in a press release, “preliminary evidence indicates that the perpetrators of this act that ended the life of journalist Igor Padilla are linked as active members of a criminal organization of maras and gangs.”

The Secretary had also said that they will comply with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s orders for the capture of the suspects.

Director of the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation (ATIC for its acronym in Spanish), Ricardo Castro, said "there is no doubt that the objective was Igor Padilla" and that "it was definitely a very planned event," HCH reported before the capture of the 18 suspects.

HCH had demanded the capture of the suspects, saying “we will continue to inform, we will not stop, we are not afraid and we will not stop telling the truth, HCH Televisión Digital will continue being the channel of reference in Hondura and will continue to transcend to the international level.”

Roberto Herrera Cáceres, the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, condemned Padilla’s death and demanded a thorough investigation. He added that the attack was a reflection of the general situation of insecurity in Honduras.

The National Commission of Human Rights in Honduras (CONADEH for its initials in Spanish) reported that, including Padilla, 69 people related to communications have died since 2001, with an impunity rate of 95 percent.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.