Gunmen kill 3 people in soccer-related shooting

BY foxsports • September 20, 2010

Police have identified three soccer fans who were killed in a drive-by shooting as crowds walked toward a stadium.

The shooting occurred Sunday as hundreds of Motagua fans headed to Tegucigalpa's national stadium for a league match against Real Espana.

Three other people were injured. Their conditions were not immediately clear Monday.

Police spokesman Leonel Sauceda identified the dead as Francisco Portillo, 22; Jonathan Cruz, 17, and Karol Martinez, 20.

Sauceda speculated the attackers could be gang members and supporters of Honduran club Olimpia, bitter rivals of Motagua. Sauceda said the hooligan factions may have been infiltrated by members of the violent street gangs Mara Salvatrucha and La 18. The street gangs are involved in drug trafficking and organized crime.

The shooting is at least the fifth similar incident in the last three years in Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America.

It was the second violent incident in two days involving Motagua, although the two appeared unrelated.

On Friday, Motagua goalkeeper Donaldo Morales shot a newspaper reporter with an air gun because he was angry that the journalist had criticized him in an article.

Saul Carranza, a reporter for the sports daily Diez, was trying to interview Morales after a practice Friday when the goalkeeper started insulting him and complaining that the reporter had blamed him for a 2-2 draw last week against Vida.

Carranza moved on to interview midfielder Jorge Claros. Moments later, Morales appeared with the air gun, shot Carranza three times and fled.

Diez reported in its Saturday edition that Morales called Carranza three times to apologize but the reporter did not accept.

Carranza did not press charges against Morales, but the newspaper said he would if the goalkeeper approached the reporter again.

Motagua president Pedro Atala condemned Morales' behavior in a statement and promised to "apply all the sanctions that the situation deserves," although he did not specify what those would be.