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Another Man Is Charged in Torturing and Brutally Murdering an Arizona Gay Man

Christopher Ibarra Charged Anti-Gay Murder

Police say the alleged killers horrifically murdered Bernardo Pantaleon because he was gay, then sent photos of his body to his family.

A fourth man in Arizona has been arrested in connection with the brutal premeditated torture, murder, and abuse of Bernardo Pantaleon, a gay man whose naked and mutilated body was found in a Phoenix park last month.

Police say his killers were associated with a local Mexican street gang, shared messages saying gay men were not welcome on their gang’s turf, and taunted the grieving family by sending them pictures of Pantaleon’s horrifically mutilated body, the Arizona Republic reports.

Authorities on Monday arrested Christopher Ibarra, 21, and charged him with first-degree murder and a gang-related charge. Police don’t believe he participated in the murder but knew of the plans and did nothing to stop them.

On Saturday police arrested 21-year-olds Leonardo Santiago and Manuel Castro Calderon on charges of first-degree murder, aiding a street gang, and conspiring to commit crimes against a dead person. Police also arrested Jose Rodriguez, 20, on Saturday and charged him with first-degree murder and aiding a street gang.

Police allege the men are associated with the North Side 15th Avenue gang.

Pantaleon was found dead at Mountain View Park in northeastern Phoenix by a passerby on November 26. His naked body contained multiple gunshot wounds, was badly mutilated, and showed signs of horrific torture before his death. Police said they recommended family members not view the body.

On November 30, family members received multiple messages on Instagram showing pictures of Pantaleon’s mutilated body. One of the pictures showed the middle finger of a person with Pantaleon’s body in the background. The move backfired, though, as, with the help of family members, another picture with the profile of one of the suspects led investigators to Santiago and his alleged group of murderous coconspirators.

The group allegedly plotted the murder in a group chat, making derogatory comments about Pantaleon’s flamboyance and sexual identity, and later celebrated his murder. They also allegedly made comments that gay people like Pantaleon “not being allowed in the north side” according to charging documents.

Police say Ibarra confessed to police following his arrest, admitting he saw pictures of Pantaleon’s body but denied sending them to family members. He reportedly identified two of the suspects from the photos to police.

Pantaleon was remembered by family and friends as loving and outgoing.

A GoFundMe page created to help the family said it was “never a dull moment” with the outgoing Pantaleon and described him as “not just full of love, but the funniest, caring loving person you will come across” and also “the rock for his sibling after the loss of their parents.”

The page currently has reached over $6,600 to date toward its goal of $10,000.

While Arizona’s hate crimes law does cover crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual or gender identity, such determinations are made by a judge or jury at trial with enhanced penalties but are not filed as a separate hate crime charge.

First-degree murder in Arizona is a class 1 felony punishable by life in prison or death.

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