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October 06, 2023

Luzerne County newspaper publisher allegedly shot by man angry about caricatures of his wife, police say

Victor Perez, the accused gunman, told police that he also was upset by pictures of his children printed by the Spanish-language publication, investigators say

Investigations Shootings
Newspaper Shooting Pennsylvania Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Victor Perez, 60, is charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment for allegedly shooting a Spanish-language newspaper publisher in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

The publisher of a Spanish-language newspaper in Luzerne County was shot Wednesday by a man police say allegedly was angry about drawings of his wife and pictures of his children that appeared in the publication.

The shooting happened just before 6 p.m. in Hazleton, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, the Times Leader reported.

Victor Perez, 60, of Freeland, was arraigned Thursday on felony assault charges. He reportedly told police he had a longstanding feud with Bernardo Perez about images published in his newspaper, El Periodiquito. Police said the two men are not related.

Bernardo Perez was shot once in the arm and taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Authorities arrested Victor Perez at his home after the shooting. 

Spanish-language news outlets, including La Bazuca and El Jaya, reported Bernardo Perez is a Dominican folklorist who came to the U.S. about two decades ago. His newspaper, El Periodiquito, is distributed in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. 

When questioned by police, Victor Perez alleged that Bernardo Perez had published disparaging caricatures of his wife and pictures of his children, the Times Leader reported. Victor Perez is reportedly the president of the Dominican House community center in Hazleton.

Before the shooting, Bernardo allegedly had gone to a business where Victor's daughter works to drop off copies of the newspaper to be sold, police said. The business would not allow him to leave the papers there. 

When Victor Perez heard about this incident, he searched for Bernardo because "he felt he was protecting his daughter," according to CBS21. Victor told police he found Bernardo in his car on South Vine Street, and when he confronted the publisher, he said Bernardo got out of the vehicle and threatened him with a knife, authorities said.

Both men reportedly told police that the other had threatened to kill them before shots were fired. Victor allegedly told investigators he wanted to stop Bernardo from advancing.

Authorities charged Victor Perez with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He's being held at the Luzerne County Prison.