Mexican pastor shot dead in truck at Juarez intersection; motive unknown


A Mexican pastor was reportedly shot dead while sitting in his truck at an intersection in the Chihuahua state, police have said. 

State police say that the man shot to death while inside of his 2010 Honda Ridgeline at an intersection in North Juarez on Friday night is a pastor named Salvador Atilano Galaviz Morales, according to El Paso’s KTSM.

Another man inside of Morales’ truck was reportedly injured but no immediate update is available on his condition. 

According to authorities, Morales pastored at an evangelical church in Cuidad Cuauhtémoc, which is located in Chihuahua about five hours south of the border town where he was killed.

In addition to preaching, the local NBC news affiliate reports that Morales was known on YouTube for his worship singing and records. 

According to authorities, there are no suspects and a motive for the attack has not yet been determined. 

An official with the crime investigation unit told the El Diaro de Juarez on Saturday that there was little progress made in the investigation.

Morales’ death comes while violence in Juarez continues to increase.

According to KTSM, the rise in violence in Juarez is a result of a turf war between two drug cartel factions. 

Daily drug-related murders in Juarez have become routine as over 1,200 people have been killed this year, the El Paso Times reports

In this month alone, at least 28 people have been killed and more than two-dozen buses and vehicles have been set on fire in a string of violence that began when authorities launched a planned search of a state prison. 

Morales was not the first pastor to have been shot and killed in Juarez. 

Last June 8, Pastor Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Garcia was shot at least six times after he was chased in his car by suspected members of a drug cartel. Garcia’s death came about nine years after his 24-year-old son was killed. 

“These [criminal] groups are affecting the whole city and especially the Christian community because we are a people of peace,” Jorge Rodriguez, the Juarez director of religious affairs, told World Watch Monitor in 2017. “In many cases, the abuses are not even reported, but we have specific cases of pastors being kidnapped and children of pastors being kidnapped, such as in the case of Pastor Eduardo Garcia and his family.”

In August, a Mexican evangelical pastor and priest were both killed near or at their churches.

Pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was shot and killed after leaving a church service at Fraternidad Cristiana church in Tlalixtac de Cabrera in Oaxaca state on Aug. 18. 

Days later, Father José Martín Guzmán Vega, 55, was stabbed to death in the Tamaulipas state. According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, Vega marked the 27th priest to have been murdered in Mexico since 2012. 

Earlier this month, nine members of a Mormon family — six children and three women — with duel United States and Mexico citizenship were killed by suspected gangsters in a horrific attack in La Mora. According to U.S. President Donald Trump, the family was caught in between two rival drug cartels. 

Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in dozens of countries worldwide, ranks Mexico as the 39th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on its 2019 World Watch List. The organization states that organized crime operations in Mexico have been known to target priests and pastors.

A large factor for Mexico’s ranking on the list is the fact that organized crime continues to go unconfronted by the government, Open Doors notes. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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