Four suspected gang members have been accused of savagely murdering a gay man in Arizona — and then sending photos of the victim’s mutilated body to his family.
Bernardo Pantaleon, 30, was found dead in a Phoenix city park on Nov. 26. Investigators said he had been shot multiple times and later desecrated with a knife.
Pantaleon’s family and friends said they believe he was targeted and slaughtered because he was gay and often wore glamorous clothing and makeup.
“He was brutally attacked, and there was a trail of blood all over where they had found him, meaning that he had to run for his life and tried to get safe. He couldn’t make it,” his cousin, Anai Pantaleon, told the news outlet The Arizona Republic.
Four days later, Pantaleon’s relatives received photos via Instagram displaying his disfigured body, and another of someone flipping their middle finger at the crime scene.
Pantaleon’s mutilated body was discovered in a desert area of Mountain View Park. KPNX
Three of the suspects in the killing, identified as Leonardo Santiago, 21, Manuel Carrasco Calderon, 21, and Jose Rodriguez, 20, were arrested Saturday. The fourth, 21-year-old Christopher Ibarra, was taken into custody Monday.
The suspects are believed to be linked to the North Side 15th Avenue street gang. Police said they planned to rob Pantaleon and then kill him.
Santiago allegedly admitted to the police that he had shot and killed Pantaleon because he had made “an unwanted advance that made him uncomfortable,” according to court records cited by Fox 10 Phoenix.
Calderon allegedly brutalized the victim’s body with a knife, and Rodriguez was present during the killing in Mountain View Park.
It was Rodriguez’s Instagram profile that sent the images of Pantaleon’s bloodied body to his family, court filings stated, although the suspect denied sending them.
Santiago said in messages to his alleged accomplices that he was going to “get” Pantaleon on the night of Nov. 25, according to court records.
Other members of the group chat, including Calderon and Rodriguez, allegedly asked for updates and photo and video proof of the killing.
Santiago was charged with first-degree murder, while Calderon and Rodriguez were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Santiago and Calderon were also charged with crimes against a dead person.
Ibarra, who was arrested earlier this week, was charged with first-degree murder and assisting a gang.
Police said a social media profile used by Ibarra was in the chat where the other suspects talked about Pantaleon’s murder.
Ibarra allegedly admitted that he knew about the planned killing and “did not do anything about it,” even though he said he acknowledged “it was wrong to not say anything,” according to the records.
Ibarra also allegedly admitted to receiving photos of Pantaleon’s lifeless body, but he denied sending them to the victim’s family.
All four trio were ordered held on bonds ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.
Pantaleon worked as a caretaker for the elderly. He was described in a GoFundMe campaign as the “rock” for his three siblings after they lost their parents at a young age.
The relative who created the fundraiser said the 30-year-old “was not just full of love, but the funniest, caring loving person you will come across.”
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