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3 Arizona Gang Members Accused of Killing and Mutilating Gay Man, Sending Photos of Body to His Family: Police

3 Arizona Gang Members Accused of Killing, Mutilating Gay Man
Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

(From left to right) Leonardo Santiago, Jose David Rodriguez and Manuel Carrasco-Calderon accused of murdering Berbardo Pantaleon.

Dec. 11 2023, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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Three gang members have been arrested after they allegedly tortured and killed a man on a hiking trail in Arizona, then sent photos of his body to his relatives, authorities said.

On Nov. 26, Bernardo Pantaleon, 30, was found fatally shot and mutilated with “significant trauma” on a hiking trail at Mountain View Park in Phoenix, according to court documents obtained by KTVK-TV.

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Pantaleon was reportedly beaten, tortured and stripped of his clothing, officials said.

One of the suspects, 21-year-old Leonardo Santiago, allegedly killed Pantaleon because “an unwanted advance made [Santiago] uncomfortable,” court documents showed.

3 Arizona Gang Members Accused of Killing, Mutilating Gay Man
Source: GoFundMe

Bernardo Pantaleon’s body was found on a trail near Mountain View Park. His family is worried this attack was a possible hate crime, officials said.

Authorities said Santiago allegedly shot Pantaleon to death, then returned to the scene soon after with one of the other suspects, 21-year-old Manuel Carrasco-Calderon, who “mutilated the victim’s body.”

Court documents claimed Santiago, Carrasco-Calderon and the third co-defendant, identified as 20-year-old Jose Rodriguez, allegedly previously discussed robbing and killing Pantaleon.

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According to KSAZ-TV, Pantaleon’s body was left under a small tree and he was “mutilated, postmortem, with a sharp-edged object.”

Four days after Pantaleon’s body was found, the victim's family received photos from Rodriguez’s social media accounts that depicted someone displaying the middle finger and another of Pantaleon’s body, authorities said.

The suspects communicated via group chat, court documents state, alleging: "Members of the chat repeatedly asked for updates, lamented they were not invited, asked to see video/photograph proof and one co-defendant offered to hide the co-defendant, or shooter, after the murder was completed."

There were also comments made about Pantaleon’s sexuality, officials said.

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Court documents claim Santiago allegedly admitted to killing Pantaleon and the other two suspects allegedly admitted to knowing of Santiago’s plans.

The three men, who are reportedly all members of the same gang, were arrested on Dec. 2. All three suspects were charged with assisting a criminal street gang and conspiracy to commit crimes against a dead person. Santiago was also charged with premeditated murder and Carrasco-Calderon faces a charge of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, according to authorities.

Santiago was being held on a $2 million bond; Carrasco-Calderon on a $1 million bond; and Rodriguez on a $500,000 bond.

They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 12, officials said.

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