Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez

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Four unidentified assailants shot Padilla in the Suyapa neighborhood of the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula, on January 17, according to news reports.

Padilla, a reporter for the national television station HCH (Hable como Habla, or Speak as You Speak), covered general news and crime, and also directed the comedy program “Los Verduleros” (“The Greengrocers”), which appeared on the same station.

Honduran news reports cited witnesses as saying that just before he was shot, Padilla, 38, received a call from a woman who asked him to step outside while he was filming a commercial at a local store. When Padilla went outside, four armed assailants shot him repeatedly, according to reports. He was rushed to a local private clinic, where doctors pronounced him dead, HCH reported on its Facebook page.

The day after the shooting, police arrested 18 people on suspicion of involvement in the murder, according to news reports. Police said the suspects were allegedly part of the criminal gang Barrio 18. Three of those arrested were charged with carrying out the shooting. The reports did not specify if police had identified a motive for the attack.

Eduardo Maldonado, the owner of HCH, told the Honduran daily El Heraldo that when the outlet asked Padilla if he felt threatened because of his work, the journalist had said no. CPJ’s phone calls to HCH in January 2017 went unanswered.

The Honduran newspaper La Prensa cited friends of Padilla as saying that the reporter had received a written death threat before the attack. The report did not provide further details. CPJ was unable to verify the claim.

Padilla’s final report before his death, published on HCH’s YouTube channel on January 17, was about three separate arrests. The daily La Tribuna reported that Padilla was highly critical of the government and local authorities. He was also producing a film about violence against journalists, according to reports.

In a post on its Facebook page, HCH quoted Ricardo Castro, the director of the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation, which is examining the case, as saying that he believed the murder was planned. “There is no doubt that Igor Padilla was the objective. Fifteen minutes after [the attack], we dispatched various teams to begin the investigation,” Castro said.

Police at the First Station of the National Police in San Pedro Sula told CPJ in January 2017 that those in charge of the investigation were not available to comment.