In Phoenix, Arizona, four suspected gang members have been arrested for the savage murder of Bernardo Pantaleon, a 30-year-old gay man. Pantaleon’s mutilated body was discovered in a city park on November 26, after being shot multiple times and desecrated with a knife.
Pantaleon’s family believes he was targeted because of his sexual orientation and his fondness for wearing 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 shared with the Arizona Republic.
Adding to the family’s anguish, they received gruesome photos via Instagram showing Pantaleon’s disfigured body, including a photo of someone gesturing disrespectfully at the crime scene.
The suspects, linked to the North Side 15th Avenue street gang, include Leonardo Santiago, 21, Manuel Carrasco Calderon, 21, Jose Rodriguez, 20, and Christopher Ibarra, 21. Santiago allegedly confessed to shooting Pantaleon following an “unwanted advance,” while Calderon is accused of further mutilating the body with a knife. Rodriguez and Ibarra were implicated in the planning and aftermath of the murder.
Investigators discovered a group chat among the suspects that contained discussions about the murder, including derogatory remarks about Pantaleon’s sexuality. The chat also revealed Santiago’s intent to “get” Pantaleon on the night of the murder, with other members requesting photographic evidence.
Santiago faces charges of first-degree murder, while Calderon and Rodriguez are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Santiago and Calderon also face charges for crimes against a dead person. Ibarra, involved in the group chat, was charged with first-degree murder and assisting a gang.
Pantaleon, remembered as a caring and loving individual, worked as a caretaker for the elderly and was a significant figure in his family. All suspects are currently held on bonds ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.