Continued from page 3

Next stop: ballistics. They asked for all the weapons from the unit that had been at the roadblock.

And then came the chilling news. The soldiers were in a special forces unit of the army’s 1st Battalion. The Ford was part of a batch donated by the U.S. government. The unit itself, because it used U.S. aid, had been trained by the U.S. and vetted to ensure the soldiers and leadership were not corrupt and complied with human rights laws.

In other words, these were Honduras’s finest soldiers. And it seemed to Wilfredo that they had murdered his son.

The more Wilfredo learned, the angrier he became.

The army chief, Rene Osorio, told the press Ebed had failed to stop at an army checkpoint and deserved what he got.

“Everyone who does not stop at a military checkpoint is involved in something,” Osorio said.

On June 7, Enamorado called in the soldiers, opening an investigative file that would swell to some 700 pages. None of the soldiers remembered a man on a motorcycle, they said. Nothing happened that night.

After the interview, though, one of the soldiers called his mother and told her a very different story, according to the investigative file. He had been ordered to lie about the shooting of the boy, he said. His mother called a lawyer, who advised them that it would be better to be a witness than a suspect. The soldier showed up at the prosecutor’s office the next day with three others.

There had been 21 men at the military roadblock. Seven more in the Ford. The two bullets that killed Ebed came from the same weapon.

The boy, he said, did not stop at the checkpoint, but raced through it. They followed him in the Ford pickup, chasing him through the dark alleys for at least five minutes. The boy turned into an alley too narrow for the truck, so the driver stopped. The lieutenant sitting in the front passenger seat ordered the unit to open fire as he jumped out of the truck and started shooting. Two other soldiers got out and fired from 30 meters away, with soldier Eleazar Abimael Rodriguez dropping to his knee in the firing position, said the soldier, who is now a protected witness. The motorcyclist was shot.

After that, said the soldier, the unit alerted Col. Juan Giron and received instructions. “We were ordered to pick up the shell casings and we returned to the roadblock. He told us what we had to say… that we shouldn’t say what happened,” according to the investigative file.

Officers took the weapons the soldiers had used that night and exchanged them, to cover up the shooting, the soldiers said.

When Enamorado told Wilfredo what had happened, he was aghast.

“They used my son as target practice,” he said.

The soldiers had a choice, Enamorado said. It was right to chase Ebed, to try to stop him, even to shoot into the air. But not at a fleeing suspect.

Story Continues →