Two gunmen shot dead Federico Salazar, a reporter for the Guatemala City station Radio Nuevo Mundo, and Danilo López, a reporter for the Guatemala City daily Prensa Libre, while the journalists were walking in a park in Mazatenango, the capital of southwest Suchitepéquez department. A third journalist, Marvin Túnchez, a reporter for the local Canal 30 cable TV station, was also injured in the shooting. The gunmen fled on a motorcycle.
Marvin Robledo, director of Radio Nuevo Mundo, told CPJ that Salazar, who was 32, had worked for the station for the past three years as a correspondent in Suchitepequez department covering news and sports. He said the journalist had not reported receiving any threats and had not worked on any sensitive stories. Robledo told CPJ that Salazar and López had sometimes worked on stories together and speculated that the two journalists could have discovered sensitive information in the course of their reporting.
López had frequently been threatened for his stories about corruption, according to Prensa Libre. López had worked as a correspondent in Suchitepéquez for Prensa Libre for more than a decade and often wrote about corruption and the misuse of public funds, according to the paper. He had also compared corrupt politicians to mafia dons on his Twitter account, Prensa Libre reported. Miguel Angel Méndez Zetina, editor of Prensa Libre, said that López "received constant threats by municipal authorities for his stories about government corruption," according to the paper.
According to the Guatemalan online investigative journalism outlet Plaza Pública which cited an official at the attorney general's unit for crimes against journalists who asked not to be identified, López called the official an hour before he was killed and told him he was frightened and that the environment in Mazatenango was "very charged." López told the official that his fear was related to his investigation into a story on money laundering in Suchitepéquez, according to Plaza Pública.
In an interview after the attack, Túnchez told the Guatemalan daily Publinews that the gunmen "approached Danilo directly. The attack was against him. Federico and I were collateral victims."
In the days after the murder, authorities arrested two men they said were suspected of being the gunmen, according to news reports.
Federal authorities said shortly after the attack that they were investigating the possible involvement of an organized crime network working in the area with links to the Mexican drug trafficking group, the Sinoloa Cartel, according to news reports. Authorities requested that the investigation be transferred to a special court in the capital dedicated to high risk cases after local prosecutors investigating the crime received threats, according to the reports.
In June 2015, authorities arrested two police officers and a third man suspected of forming part of the criminal network that is suspected of being involved in the crime. In November 2015, prosecutors accused three members of the Public Ministry and two lawyers of leaking confidential information about criminal cases, including the investigation into the journalists' murder, to criminal groups. No one had been charged by mid-December 2015.