AHUACHAPÁN, El Salvador — Three LDS teenagers and the younger brother of one of the LDS young men were shot and killed in El Salvador on Saturday while walking home from a family activity.
The young men were identified as Rafael Alberto Chinchilla Chachagua, 18, and his brother, Juan Antonio García Chachagua, 16; and Nelson Leonel Hernández, 18, and his brother, Alejandro Antonio Juárez Hernández, 16. Nelson had recently received his call to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil, while Rafael was in the process of preparing his missionary application.
The young men had just attended a midnight Mass held in behalf of a late family member, according to police reports. Because all of the family cars were crowded, the boys decided to walk home from the Mass. They were walking through an area that police say is "disputed by two gangs" when they were shot.
Police and family members both told ElSalvador.com that there was no evidence to suggest that the boys were in any way affiliated with gangs, although one police source suggested that the victims had been bothered by gang members previously because they had rejected recruitment efforts and had been trying to convert other local young people.
"These were great young men from good families," said Nestor Henry Zamora Díaz, president of the Ahuachapán El Salvador Stake. "They were active in our congregation. ... We are heartbroken by this tragic loss and will miss the presence of these boys in our congregation."
Speaking for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Ruth Todd said, "We are deeply saddened by the acts of violence in Ahuachapán, El Salvador, that resulted in the deaths of four young men, including three Latter-day Saints. We pray that the Spirit will provide comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones and trust that their faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel will give them peace in these moments of sadness.”