TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) – A player for the Honduran national soccer team was shot to death Thursday in a shopping mall parking lot in his hometown of La Ceiba on the country's Caribbean coast, police said.
In a statement, police said Arnold Peralta was killed outside the Uniplaza mall. He was in his hometown on vacation following the conclusion of his professional club's season.
Police said no suspects were in custody and the motive for the attack was unknown. In a second statement later, officials ruled out robbery as a possible motive. The country is plagued by gang violence and has one of the world's highest homicide rates.
The player's father, Carlos Peralta, confirmed the death at a news conference. "This is terrible. They killed my exemplary son. I can't say more because of the pain I feel."
Osman Madrid, director of Honduras' national soccer federation, said, "This is a tragic death that the national sport mourns."
Peralta, a 26-year-old midfielder, joined Club Deportivo Olimpia in the Honduran national soccer league this year. Olimpia was eliminated from the league's semifinal last weekend by its archrival, Motagua.
The soccer club expressed its condolences through its official Twitter account.
Peralta had been scheduled to play in the national team's friendly match against Cuba next week. In his professional career, he previously played for the Rangers Football Club in Scotland and Club Deportivo Vida in Honduras.
He represented Honduras at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He was captain of Honduras' sub-20 national team.