Photojournalist shot to death outside his home in Tijuana

Margarito Martinez
Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel in 2019.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A Tijuana journalist who covered crime and security issues in the border city was shot to death Monday outside his home as he left for work.

Margarito Martínez Esquivel, who worked as a journalist and “fixer” assisting international outlets including the BBC, as well as for the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, was shot three times, according to his wife, Elena.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything for him,” said Elena Martínez, crying outside the family’s home in the Camino Verde neighborhood of Tijuana. Martínez’s 16-year-old daughter heard the gunshots and found her father’s body by his car immediately following the shooting, Elena Martínez said.


Crime scene investigators collected evidence while the National Guard was posted outside the area to maintain security around the family’s home. Hiram Sanchez Zamora, chief prosecutor for central Baja California, also arrived at the scene to conduct a formal investigation.

Photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel was killed outside his home in Tijuana
Photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel, known as “4-4,” was killed outside his home. Investigators at the scene in Colonia Camino Verde in Tijuana.
(Alejandro Tamayo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Mexican journalists expressed anger, grief and alarm Monday afternoon, as they gathered at the scene of the shooting. Martínez was the second journalist to be killed in the violence-stricken country since the start of the year. Jose Luis Gamboa, the director of the online news site Inforegio in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, reportedly suffered stab wounds in what may have been a robbery. He died at a hospital in the state capital on Jan. 10.

Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous places for reporters outside active war zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 134 killings of reporters in Mexico since 1992, for both motive-confirmed and motive-unconfirmed deaths, according to Mike Lettieri, a San Diego researcher who tracks security issues.

Martínez, 49, was beloved by colleagues and known as fearless. Last year, he documented a shootout between two groups, putting his own safety at risk. Journalist chat groups for Baja California were flooded with messages of grief and support on Monday afternoon.

Some members of the media called on government officials to aggressively investigate the crime.

“This is a huge loss of a great colleague, who worked for many years for almost every single formal media outlet in Tijuana and Baja California,” said Sonia de Anda, a Tijuana journalist who runs the news site Esquina 32. “He was a journalist who was very well-known and well-respected by everyone.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.