An unidentified individual shot and killed Leonardo Gabriel Hernández on March 17, 2019, near his home in the city of Nacaome, in the Valle department in southern Honduras, according to local news reports.
Hernandez hosted “El Pueblo Habla” (The People Speak), a program on the local, privately owned channel Valle TV, where he discussed social issues and local politics, according to reports and the Honduran press freedom organization C-Libre.
According to a statement by C-Libre, Hernández was critical of government officials, including Nacaome’s mayor and regional members of Congress.
Hernández had received threats related to his work in the past and had requested assistance from the national protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders in 2018, but was denied, according to a representative from Honduran press freedom organization C-Libre, who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity, media reports, and the investigative journalism group Reporteros de Investigación.
On March 20, the Human Rights Secretariat of Honduras issued a statement on social media denying that Hernández had requested protection from the protection mechanism, and called for his murder to be investigated.
CPJ’s calls to the offices of the national protective mechanism and the Honduran prosecutor’s offices in March 2019 went unanswered.
On March 21, 2019 commissioner Ronnel Martínez of the National Police of Honduras said that police believe Hernández was targeted because of his criticism of organized criminal groups, according to reports. Martínez said that police had detained two members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang in connection with Hernandez’s murder, according to local news reports.