Christopher Ibarra, 21, was arrested on Monday and charged with murder and assisting a local street gang. He is being held in a Maricopa County jail on $2 million bond. Court documents allege Ibarra and three others involved in the killing are members of the North Side 15th Avenue gang.
On Saturday, police arrested three others in connection with the killing: Manuel Carrasco Calderon, 21, Jose Rodriguez, 20, and Leonardo Santiago, 21.
Santiago, who is being held on a $2 million bond, is charged with first-degree murder, assisting a street gang and crimes against a dead person. Calderon also is charged with first-degree murder, crimes against a dead person and assisting a street gang. His bond is $1 million. Rodriguez is charged with first-degree murder and assisting a criminal street gang and has a $500,000 bond.
Pantaleon was found dead about 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 at a park near 7th and Cinnabar avenues. He had suffered from gunshot wounds and significant bodily trauma, according to Phoenix police, who said that the killers had returned to Pantaleon’s body to mutilate it and send photos to the victim’s family.
‘Homosexuals not allowed on the northside’Ibarra told police that he had participated in an online chat group in which Pantaleon’s homicide was discussed, according to probable cause statements from Phoenix police. He allegedly told police that the day before the killing, someone else said they were going to shoot Pantaleon.
Ibarra said he knew that others charged in the homicide returned to the park to desecrate Pantaleon’s corpse and take photos of it, which were shared with him in the chat group.
“He admitted he received a picture of the victim in the group chat lying on the ground shirtless with blood on his face,” court records stated.
Police said all four men participated in an online chat group in which Pantaleon’s killing was plotted. Some members of the chat “made derogatory remarks regarding the victim’s sexuality” and commented about “homosexuals not being allowed on the northside,” according to police and court documents.
Santiago possessed a .380 handgun when he was arrested, according to probable cause statements. He also allegedly confessed to killing Pantaleon over what he claimed was an “unwanted advance.”
Santiago allegedly told police that the original plan was to rob the victim the day before he was killed. He “admitted there was a plan to kill the victim, referring to it as a ‘set up.’” He also confessed to being present when the corpse was mutilated, though he said one of the other men came up with the idea, according to court documents.
Calderon allegedly told police that he knew that Santiago planned to shoot Pantaleon but did nothing about it. According to probable cause statements, Santiago contacted Calderon after the homicide to ask for help.
“They returned to the scene where (Calderon) used a knife with a brass knuckle handle to mutilate the body,” according to court documents. “He admitted to taking a sweatshirt off the victim before mutilating the body.”
Rodriguez and others in the chat discussion allegedly “repeatedly asked for updates” on the killing they planned, “lamented that they were not invited” and “asked to see video/photograph proof,” according to police documents.
Rodriguez allegedly admitted to discussing the homicide with others in the chat room and sharing photos of Pantaleon’s cut-up corpse. He denied sending the photos to Pantaleon’s family though, according to the probable cause statement, “it was his profile the pictures were sent from.”
One of the photos sent to the family via Instagram depicted “the victim, deceased, with an unknown person flipping their middle finger,” court documents stated. Another image showed “the victim’s mutilated body.”
‘They targeted him because he was gay’Pantaleon’s family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for funeral expenses. More than $6,600 of the $10,000 goal was raised by Thursday morning. A car wash fundraiser to benefit Pantaleon’s family is scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of Charlie’s, an LGBTQ+ nightclub.
Juan Pantaleon, the victim’s cousin, described Pantaleon as “brave and beautiful” in an interview with Fox 10 and said he was proud of Pantaleon for “living his truth.”
Juan Pantaleon said he was glad the alleged killers were arrested, but he strongly suggested authorities should also prosecute those in custody for hate crimes.
"They targeted him because he was gay. They killed him because he was gay. They then proceeded to dump his corpse in the desert because he was gay, then mutilate his corpse again because he was gay. Leave, come back, cut him up some more, take pictures of it, and post it on social media saying, 'gays aren't welcome in the north side,' yet they are only being charged with mutilating a corpse and murder. It's not enough," he said.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not respond to an inquiry from Phoenix New Times about whether the office will seek a hate crime enhancement to charges in the case.