Luis Alonzo Almendares

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

About 6 p.m. on September 27, 2020, in the central Honduran city of Comayagua, two unidentified individuals on a motorcycle shot local freelance journalist Luis Alonzo Almendares three times and then fled the scene. After Almendares streamed a Facebook Live video—in which he can be heard saying he was shot and asking for help from passersby—bystanders brought him to a local hospital. He was then transferred to a hospital in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where he died the next morning, according to news reports and a report by Honduran free expression organization C-Libre.

Almendares posted local news reporting to his Facebook page, where he identified himself as “The Voice of the Comayaguans.” He had more than 40,000 followers, and frequently reported on alleged corruption and mismanagement by local officials.

In a news conference on September 28, 2020, Carlos González, who was the chief of the  National Police in Comayagua at the time, said that an investigation was underway and that he hoped the case would be resolved shortly, according to audio of that briefing reviewed by CPJ.

C-Libre representative Cesario Padilla told CPJ in September 2020 that Almendares repeatedly contacted the press freedom group about various threats he received since 2017 in response to his coverage, including death threats.

A local journalist who knew Almendares and who spoke to CPJ in September 2020 on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns, said that Almendares “denounced acts of corruption from various local authorities in Comayagua, and was very critical about how the COVID-19 aid had been distributed.”

The journalist, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals, suggested that the attack may have been connected to a video that Almendares posted to Facebook on September 23, 2020, that showed an alleged killing committed by someone driving a pickup truck with police lights. On September 28, 2020, the day after Almendares was shot, the Honduran Journalists Union, a local press association, tweeted a link to that video, saying that it should be “a starting point” for the investigation into his killing.

On October 2, 2020, the prosecutor’s office conducted several raids in Comayagua to collect evidence in Almendares’ case. That day, National Police spokesperson Jair Meza told La Prensa that “there is progress and we are waiting for arrest warrants to be issued.”

In July 2023, authorities convicted Junior Francisco Bonilla Sosa for his role in Almendares’ death, news reports said. Prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence, but as of October 2023 no sentence had been announced.

In October 2023, CPJ emailed the Honduran National Police and judiciary for comment but did not receive any replies.