Jesús Gutiérrez Vergara

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Jesús Gutiérrez Vergara, the founder and editor of Notiface, a Facebook-based news website, was talking with four off-duty police officers in the early hours of September 25, 2023, in a residential area in the northern city of San Luis Río Colorado when shots were fired from a vehicle, killing the journalist and one officer, and wounding the other three.

Gutiérrez was not the target but simply a neighbor who died “in a collateral manner,” the state prosecutor’s office said in a statement. CPJ was unable to confirm whether the reporter was working at the time.

On September 26, the city’s mayor, Santos González Yescas, said in a video statement that three suspects, who were part of an organized crime gang, had been arrested. The mayor said the attack was directed at the police officers, and Gutiérrez had walked up to greet them when they were all shot.

The arrest announcement was originally posted as a video statement on the mayor’s social media account, but was later deleted for unknown reasons, according to news reports. The statement did not provide any further details.

Several telephone calls by CPJ to the San Luis Río Colorado municipal government and to the Sonora state prosecutor’s office were not answered.

Gutiérrez, 47, was a veteran crime reporter who was well known locally, particularly for his live broadcasts from crime scenes, according to the online newspaper Infobae. Gutiérrez had recently published posts on Notiface about crime in the city, including an article about the arrest of an alleged drug trafficker and videos of police vehicles responding to an incident.

CPJ was unable to find contact information for Gutiérrez’s family and was not aware of any recent threats against the reporter’s life. Similarly, an official with the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which protects reporters at risk, told CPJ that it had not been in contact with Gutiérrez or heard of any threats against him. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly comment on the matter.