Publicist José Enrique Gómez Saladín was driving home after a work-related event in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday. He called his wife to say he was stopping for food and would be home soon.
But Gómez Saladín never made it.
He was carjacked and beaten to death and his body was burned in a shocking murder that has led federal authorities to take jurisdiction in the case.
“We are assuming jurisdiction over all those implicated. This case is eligible for the death penalty,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Lymarie Llovet said.
The case has mobilized many in Puerto Rico and online who want justice for the 32-year-old publicist and an end to violence in Puerto Rico. A movement has begun on Twitter, made up of people, including prominent Puerto Ricans like Ricky Martin and salsa singer Victor Manuelle, who are posting photos with signs in Spanish that say, “Todos somos Jose Enrique” (We are all Jose Enrique).
Hundreds of tweets were sent in solidarity with justice for Gómez Saladín and increased awareness was aided by the nearly 8 million followers of Ricky Martin and Victor Manuelle who saw the call to action.
According to Caribbean Business, his badly beaten and burned body was found at the shuttered penal camp in the Guavate area of Cayey on Monday night. Police were led there by one of the suspects in the case.
Earlier in the day, police found the torched remnants of Gómez Saladín’s Toyota Matrix abandoned in a wooded area in the Tomas de Castro area of Caguas.
Two male suspects were in custody by Tuesday morning and authorities had detained two women by the evening. The first detainee was turned in by his mother, who recognized her son from security camera photos that spread through social media sites like Facebook and were broadcast by media outlets. One of the young men arrested told investigators that Gómez Saladín was killed at the Guavate site between midnight and 2 a.m. on Friday, within a few hours after he was carjacked.
Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia, acquired an eight-page confession one of the suspects gave to police and explained that the suspects and his friends needed money for rent and decided to go rob somebody. Gómez Saladín begged for his life but in a bout of almost unthinkable violence, the group is said to have doused him with gasoline and beaten him to death.
The brutal death of Gómez Saladín and the murder of boxing champion Hector “Macho” Camacho a little over a week ago have once again brought the problem of violence on the streets of Puerto Rico to the forefront of public discussion.
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