Santiago Barroso Alfaro

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A gunman shot radio journalist Santiago Barroso Alfaro on March 15, 2019, at his home in San Luis Río Colorado, in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, and the journalist later died in the hospital, according to news reports.

Barroso hosted the morning news show "Buenos Días San Luis" (Good Morning San Luis) on Río Digital 91.1 FM, a privately owned radio broadcaster, and was also a columnist for the local weekly magazine Semanario Contraseña, according to Humberto Melgoza, editor of Semanario Contraseña and a long-time friend of Barroso, who spoke with CPJ.

Barroso was also a journalism teacher at the Technological University of San Luis Río Colorado and the founder and editor of news website Red 653, Melgoza said.

The state attorney general’s office shared a preliminary report on the case with CPJ via WhatsApp on March 16. According to the report, two unidentified individuals approached the journalist’s home at approximately 9 p.m. One individual knocked on the door and, when Barroso answered, shot him at least three times; the other individual acted as the getaway driver, according to the report.

Barroso, 47, managed to call an ambulance, but he died in the hospital at approximately 11 p.m., according to the report.

Sonora state’s attorney general, Claudia Indira Contreras Cordova, told Mexico City newspaper La Jornada on March 18 that Barroso’s journalism was considered the principal motive for the killing.

Contreras Cordova referred to a broadcast of "Buenos Días San Luis" earlier on the day Barroso was killed in which he commented on organized crime in the San Luis Río Colorado area, specifically drug and human trafficking.

However, on March 22, Contreras Cordova told local and national media that an arrest had been made in the case and that Barroso’s work as a journalist had been dismissed as a possible motive.

According to the March 22 statements by the attorney general, a single male individual was the prime suspect for the attack. Although his identity was withheld, Contreras Cordova said that the suspect is an employee of an unidentified local cultural center and that the attack was likely motivated by a personal conflict over a romantic relationship involving the journalist.

Melgoza told CPJ that he was unaware of any threats against the reporter’s life. "We are looking into his recent work, but we have not found anything yet that might have compromised him,” Melgoza said.

Salvador Raúl González, the rector of the university where Barroso taught, told CPJ in a phone call that he also had no knowledge of any threats against the journalist. "There was no sign whatsoever that he had any problem,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which provides federal protective measures to journalists at risk, told CPJ that Barroso was not incorporated in a protection scheme and had not reported any threats to the institution. The spokesperson asked to remain anonymous to be able to speak about the matter.

Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Committed Against Freedom of Expression, told CPJ that his office has opened an investigation. He said he was unable to provide further details while the investigation was in its initial phase.