Footballer Arnold Peralta was shot dead last Thursday 10 December in his hometown of La Ceiba on Honduras’ Caribbean coast. The star midfielder had been on a Christmas shopping trip with his wife and a friend when he was savagely gunned down in the parking lot of Uniplaza mall. He died on the scene with 18 gunshot wounds.
Honduras has long suffered with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, averaging 19 murders per day, or one every 74 minutes. Late last year, Peralta, 26, tweeted about the violence ravaging his country:
“How difficult it is for our country with so many criminals killing every so often, as though killing was in fashion! These types of people don’t deserve to be alive.”
Police have ruled out robbery as a potential motive for his murder.
A successful career
Peralta had begun his footballing career with Vida in 2008. Five years later he was snapped up by Scottish Rangers, playing with the team for 18 months and helping them to win the Scottish League One title (2013-2014). In January 2015, Peralta left rangers and signed to Olimpia, a Tegucigalpa-based club and the most successful team in the country.
A timeline of Peralta’s murder was published by La Prensa, beginning with Arnold and his wife, Vanessa, dropping off their laundry and visiting grandparents, with whom they left their daughter for the day. Travelling in Arnold’s black Porsche, they proceeded to the Megaplaza mall, picking up a friend on the way, footballer Marcelo Canales. They ate lunch and shopped.
The traffic in the vicinity was choked and it took 10 minutes to drive 400 metres to the nearby Uniplaza mall. They parked and began walking to the entrance when Arnold noticed one of his car windows was not fully closed. When he returned to his vehicle to close it, a gunman, reported to have been travelling on motorcycle, opened fire and killed him. Neither Vanessa nor Marcelo witnessed the murder, but they heard the gunshots and were among the first on the scene.
Arnold’s friends and family are naturally devastated by his murder. His father, Carlos, told a news conference:
“This is terrible. They killed my exemplary son. I can’t say more because of the pain I feel.”
Vanessa, who has been left widowed with a three month-old child, expressed her heartbreak on social media:
“I do not have words to explain this pain, this emptiness that you have left in me, you were and will be the love of my life forever.”
Descansa en Paz hermano, Dios te reciba en el cielo, quedaras en nuestros corazones. Fuerza y fortaleza a la familia pic.twitter.com/mqwgQPrlOa
— Boniek Garcia (@boniek1426) December 11, 2015
His Honduran team mate Boniek Garcia tweeted:
“Rest in peace brother, God receive you in Heaven, you will stay in our hearts. Support and strength to the family.”
Last Saturday 13 December, a minute’s silence was held in Peralta’s memory at a Rangers v Morton match. His former team mates wore black arm bands.
At the time of his death, Peralta had appeared 26 times for his country. He represented Honduras at the 2012 Olympics but missed out on the 2014 FIFA World Cup due to an injury. He had been invited to represent the country in a friendly against Cuba on 16 December.
Honduras continues to mourn its loss.