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Soccer player Gilberto Hernández gunned down at just 26 years of age

 September 5, 2023

Panamanian international soccer defender Gilberto Hernández lost his life at the age of 26 following a shooting in the city of Colón.

The incident resulted in seven other people sustaining injuries, as the Daily Mail reported.

While the circumstances surrounding whether Hernández was specifically targeted remain unclear, the Panama Football League has confirmed the news of the player's death.

Hernández's Career, Shooting Incident

Hernández, who was part of the Panamanian team Independiente, had represented his nation in international competitions, including a match against Argentina in March.

The game marked Argentina's first home appearance since its team's World Cup victory in Qatar last year.

Hernández and his friends were on a main street in Colón when assailants in a taxi started shooting, according to police reports.

In the aftermath of the incident, one person has since been arrested, as reported by The Guardian.

On Monday, the national police announced the "apprehension of a citizen suspected of the murder of a football player, which occurred on Sunday ... in the province of Colón."

Last year, the Colón province of Panama, home to approximately 300,000 residents, saw 102 homicides, marking a decline of nine from the previous year, according to official statistics.

Government authorities attribute a significant portion of this violence to the work of rival drug cartels.

Panama Soccer Federation and League Mourn Hernandez's Loss

The Panama Soccer Federation expressed their condolences in the wake of the incident, noting members' deep regret over the tragic loss of Hernández.

The organization extended its sympathies to his family, loved ones, and the broader soccer community in Panama.

The Panama soccer league also issued a statement that read, "The Panamanian Football League regrets the sad loss of Gilberto Hernández, a player for Club Atlético Independiente, in an isolated act of violence in the city of Colón, which also left several injured."

Hernández's Father Pleads for Peace

Hernández's father, in an appeal, has pleaded with the youth of Colón to renounce violence.

He also urged local authorities to initiate projects to safeguard the youth from such violent incidents.

This isn't the first time a soccer player from Panama has been a victim of violence in Colón. In 2017, Amilcar Henriquez, another player, was shot dead.

Henriquez had an impressive record, having played 85 times for Panama and was part of the squad vying for a spot in the 2018 World Cup.