On August 31, 2019, two unidentified men entered a barbershop that Cablemar TV reporter Edgar Joel Aguilar visited every Saturday in the town of La Entrada in Copán, western Honduras, and shot the journalist, Cablemar TV news director Carlos Chinchilla told CPJ via phone.
Aguilar covered general news, including local crime and violence, for Cablemar TV and worked as a regional correspondent for Channel 6, a national news broadcaster, according to Chinchilla and local reports.
A police spokesperson in Copán said that Aguilar had requested protection the day before he was killed, as he feared for his life due to threats, the news website Criterio reported. The spokesperson did not provide further details.
Danilo Morales, director of the national protection mechanism for journalists, told the news website Reporteros de Investigación that the mechanism was “never informed of threats to his person."
CPJ’s calls to Morales on September 3, 2019, went unanswered. Morales did not respond to a request for comment sent that day via a messaging app.
Aguilar, 39, had worked as a journalist in the region for 19 years and was well known, Chinchilla said. He added, “[Aguilar] used to work in radio and had a significant social base of popularity. He had a lot of people who supported him in the region."
Chinchilla said that the journalist also regularly received threats over his crime coverage and confrontational reporting style.
The news director told CPJ that on August 13, a group of men came to the news station in Copán and tried to attack the journalist after Chinchilla reported on illegal moto-taxis. “They had tubes and bats and wanted to beat him up, but fortunately, we were able to calm them down,” Chinchilla said, adding that the incident was reported to police.
In 2017, the Honduran free expression organization C-Libre reported that Aguilar received death threats through the WhatsApp messaging network. And in 2012, unidentified individuals shot at a vehicle in which Aguilar was traveling, according to an August 31, 2019 National Human Rights Commissioner statement about his death.
On September 3, 2019, a spokesperson of the National Police of Honduras in the City of Copán told to the newspaper La Prensa that there were three lines of investigation in Aguilar’s case. The strongest one, the spokesperson said, was the one linking the journalist death to “personal matters.” However, the police did not give more details on the focus of the investigations.