Gumaro Perez is at least the 12th media worker to be killed in Mexico this year and his murder was shocking even by the standards of violence-plagued Veracruz state. The 34-year-old was gunned down by unidentified attackers in front of dozens of horrified children and parents at a Christmas party at his son's elementary school in the town of Acayucan Tuesday, the Guardian reports. Perez covered the crime beat for several local outlets and was also the founder of the news site La Voz del Sur. State authorities say he was part of a program to protect journalists in high-risk areas, though he had not reported any recent threats against him.
The journalist's widow, Adelina Mendoza, told local media that she had begged him to leave the profession and open a restaurant with her. She said her son was spared seeing the murder because she was leaving the party early and he left the room to say goodbye. "I hugged him, I gave him a kiss because I was leaving, and right then I heard the gunshots. But I thought they were fireworks that some child had brought," she said, per the AP. "God knows how to do things, because my son never saw his father die." Other journalists in Veracruz state say they are not being protected. "It continues being the same nightmare," says Miguel Angel Diaz, founder of the Plumas Libres news site. "Criminals have permission to do as they want."