Gunmen riding in a car attempted to assassinate a member of the civilian-led Honduras Police Reform Commission, leaving one of his bodyguards dead and the various commission members shaken.
The attack happened in the evening hours of December 15, as the bodyguards were leaving commission member and Evangelical Pastor Jorge Machado and his wife at their house, reported La Prensa.
Machado was unhurt. One bodyguard, identified as Military Police Officer Geovany Rolando Calderón, was killed, while another unidentified bodyguard was severely injured, La Prensa said.
The pastor was coming back from a meeting in which 14 police officers had been removed from their posts, reported El Heraldo. A total of 419 officers were separated from the police force on December 15, according to the newspaper.
“We do not doubt that this attack is a consequence of the work that we have been doing,” said fellow commission member and pastor Alberto Solórzano.
In a tweet, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández joined a chorus of officials who condemned the attack, while reiterating his support for the commission.
“It’s a difficult job,” he said. “But we have to do it.”
3/ No retrocederemos un tan solo milímetro en la depuración policial, esto no se detiene. Es un trabajo difícil, pero tenemos que hacerlo
— Juan Orlando H. (@JuanOrlandoH) December 16, 2016
US Ambassador James Nealon also condemned the attack in a Twitter message and offered US resources to find the perpetrators.
The US Embassy condemns the attempt on Pastor Machado’s life and offers all of our resources to capture those responsible.
— US Ambassador HN (@USAmbHonduras) December 16, 2016
InSight Crime Analysis
In less than a year, the commission has done what few thought could be done: begin a process of purging the police from the top down. They began with an initial evaluation that led to the departure or removal of close to 40 percent of the top brass of the police, including six of the nine generals that were in the police at the time.
This top-down approach is what has made them targets — first of threats, which led at least some of them to remove their families from the country, and now of the first direct assault.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Police Reform
The commission members travel in caravans with up to a dozen bodyguards, and that system proved a worthy defense on this occasion. But this is little long-term solace for those who make up the commission, which includes three other commissioners and a board of advisers; Security Minister Julián Pacheco is the government representative.
The commission has a year-long mandate that will end in April, and while the commission may continue and some of its members may retain their security detail regardless of the commission’s status, the attack sends a message that the battle over the country’s police may have only just begun.