A Mexican pastor has been killed after a gunman shot him at point-blank range. The congregation, without the right to conceal carry, was forced to stop the attacker with their bare hands.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was preaching from the pulpit of the Fraternidad Cristiana Church in the municipality of Tlalixtac de Cabrera when a gunman entered the church building and shot Canseco in the head at point-blank range.
When the gunman tried to escape, the congregation stopped him and subdued him until police could arrive. A spokesperson for CSW confirmed that the gunman “shot at members as they attempted to apprehend him.”
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and congregation of Pastor Cruz Canseco, the fact that he was targeted while in the pulpit is particularly shocking. We also remain concerned for the wellbeing of Pastor Méndez Ruiz and urge the Mexican government to spare no effort in ensuring his safe return, investigating all of these crimes and prosecuting those responsible.”
The motive for the murder of Pastor Cruz Canseco is unknown but “criminal groups” are believed to be culpable. It is reported that these criminal groups have been issuing threats to religious leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, viewing religious leaders as a threat to their power.
Pastor Cruz Canseco is not the first pastor in Mexico to be killed as a result of gang violence. Last week a Colombian Pastor was shot in what is believed to be a target assassination. Pastor Plinio Rafael Salcedo was found shot to death at his home in the village of La Caucana, in the town of Tarazá, Bajo Cauca Antioquia, a subregion of the Department of Antioquia.
The Mexican Government has been urged to provide extra protection to religious leaders.
Thomas also stated in regards to Cruz Canseco’s murder…
“We urge the Mexican government to guarantee protection for civilian populations in areas under a strong influence of criminal groups, and develop strategies to support all religious leaders who are under threat. The government must recognise the role that religious leaders play, not only as leaders of their churches, but also as voices for peace, justice and integrity, and human rights defenders, and afford them greater protection.”