Cecilio Pineda Birto

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Cecilio Pineda Birto, a freelance journalist who contributed to several newspaper and published crime stories on social media, was shot dead in the municipality of Ciudad Altamirano, in Guerrero state, on March 2, 2017, according to press reports and a colleague of the journalist.

At the time of the attack, Pineda, 38, was in a hammock at a car wash waiting for his vehicle, according to press reports. At around 7 p.m. at least two gunmen on a motorcycle stopped at the car wash and shot Pineda repeatedly, the Mexican daily El Universal reported.

Pineda died while receiving first aid, Agence France-Presse said. A colleague of Pineda’s who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity for security reasons said that Pineda was shot at least 10 times, including once in his neck.

Pineda contributed to El Universal and La Jornada de Guerrero, and had founded the weekly publication La Voz de la Tierra Caliente a few years before his death. The publication went out of circulation in 2016, his colleague said. The journalist continued to cover crime, social issues, and corruption through posts to his Facebook page, Cecilio Pineda, Las Noticias al Instante. His reporting attracted weekly threats sent via social media, his colleague told CPJ, without elaborating.

In September 2015, attackers attempted to shoot Pineda outside his house, according to AFP. The colleague told CPJ that attack appeared to be connected to his reporting, and that Pineda survived because an assailant’s gun misfired.

Patricia Corchero–head of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, a government body–told CPJ that the agency knew Pineda to be at risk. She said that the agency offered to relocate him and his family, including his two young daughters, but Pineda told them he wanted to stay in Ciudad Altamirano.

Roberto Álvarez, a spokesman for the Guerrero Coordination Group, which is comprised of federal and state security, military, and governmental bodies wrote Twitter the day after the killing that the state attorney general’s office was investigating the murder. Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression Ricardo Nájera Herrera told CPJ the same day that his office will investigate the case.