Leónidas Martínez

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A man shot and killed Leónidas Martínez, a director and producer at the radio station FM 103.5, at the radio station’s office in the southeastern city of San Pedro de Macorís on February 14, 2017, according to press reports.

The gunman also shot and killed Luis Manuel Medina, a presenter for the news program “Milenio Caliente,” the reports said. An administrative worker at the station, Dayana García, was also shot in the stomach and was hospitalized in serious condition, according to a United Press International report. Medina was killed in the recording booth while filming a broadcast on Facebook Live. Gunshots and a voice shouting, “Shots, shots, shots!” can be heard before the video abruptly ends.

On February 15, police identified José Rodríguez, 59, as the primary suspect in the murders. The same day, police gave chase to Rodríguez who shot at them several times before turning the gun on himself, police spokesman Nelson Rosario told reporters at a press conference.

Some press reports raised questions about the police’s account of events, citing anonymous neighbors who said that Rodríguez was killed in a shoot-out. The National Forensic Institute said that Rodríguez was shot once in the head and called the death a suicide, according to a statement by the Attorney General’s Office.

Rodríguez had been in a prolonged conflict with the State Sugar Council over plots of land that he had purchased from the council and had appeared at the radio station on at least two occasions, at least once when the director of the State Sugar Council was giving an interview there, according to a report commissioned by the executive branch of the Dominican government.

The report concluded that Martínez and Medina’s deaths were “directly linked to the buying and selling operations of three land lots between José Rodríguez and the State Sugar Council,” but said it was an “indecipherable enigma” why Rodríguez targeted the journalists. The report, prepared by a commission headed by Flavio Darío Espinal, a lawyer for the Dominican government’s executive branch, concluded that there was no evidence that the reporters had any interest in the land deals.

“The only explanation that can be made in a minimally plausible way is that when Mr. Rodríguez showed up to the station on February 14, 2017, carrying copies of documents in a folder and perhaps in search of answers to his demand for the refund of the money he paid to the State Sugar Council… upon finding that he could not get a satisfactory answer to his request, since the [the journalists] were neither in a position to give it…Mr. Rodríguez lost control and discharged the firearm that he carried against three innocent people who were fulfilling their work duties,” the report stated.