Police Identify Suspect in Shooting of Paraguay Soccer Star

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Police identified a suspect in the shooting of Paraguay soccer star Salvador Cabanas, who was "showing favorable signs" Tuesday after being shot in the head in a bar in a fashionable neighborhood.

Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera identified the suspect as Jose J. Balderas Garza — known also as "El JJ" or "El Modelo." Mancera said surveillance videos showed the suspect entering the bathroom with his bodyguard moments before the player was shot.

Hours after the shooting Monday, surgeons attempted to remove a bullet lodged in Cabanas' skull but decided the operation was too risky.

Mancera said the suspect spoke with an accent from the northern state of Sinaloa, a center of Mexico's drug trade. But he said there is "no indication of organized crime," suggesting instead an argument involving a Cuban woman might have set off the violence.

Officials said Cabanas was in the bar with his wife and brother-in-law. Mancera said a cleaning employee recalled a "strong exchange of words" between two men in the bathroom before a shot was fired.

Videos showed that club employees did not attempt to stop the suspects as they hurriedly left the bar and got in a car. Mancera said investigators were questioning 16 people, including bar employees.

Authorities ordered the bar closed Monday, saying it had failed to provide adequate security for its customers.

On Tuesday, Hospital officials said an MRI scan indicated Cabanas' condition had not worsened.

"Salvador is showing favorable signs (of recovery), he's stable and is starting to have brain responses to pain," Dr. Ernesto Martinez said. "But we still have to wait."

The 29-year-old Cabanas is the star of Paraguay's national team, which will play at the World Cup in South Africa in June. He is also the top scorer for the Mexico City team Club America.

Club America president Michel Bauer said the team's league match against the Indios on Sunday would proceed. The club started a page on its Web site for fans to leave messages for Cabanas. By Tuesday afternoon, supporters had left more than 2,000 messages.

Cabanas has played in the Mexico league since 2003 and has 125 goals in 218 games. He also scored 10 for the national team. This month, he drew attention from Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who expressed interest in bringing Cabanas to the English Premier League club.