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Suspects identified in shooting of soccer star

January 26, 2010 | 10:56 am

Soccer Mexico City officials say they have identified a suspect in the Monday morning shooting of international soccer star Salvador Cabanas.

Atty. Gen. Miguel Angel Mancera said security video taken from the bar where Cabanas was shot showed a man, whom Mancera identified as Jose J. Balderas Garza, entering a bathroom with his bodyguard moments before Cabanas was shot in the head. The tape, which was aired repeatedly on TV, then shows the two men exiting the restroom and hurrying to an elevator. Employees of the nightclub said the pair then left in a car. Authorities did not say whether either man had been detained or questioned.

Cabanas, the leading scorer on Paraguay's World Cup team, was playing for Mexico City's Club America and had gone to the club, known in the upscale neighborhood as Bar Bar, after midnight with his wife. They were preparing to leave around 5:30 a.m. when Cabanas stopped to the use the restroom. His wife later found him on the floor of the bathroom with a bullet in his head.

Cabanas, 29, underwent seven hours of emergency surgery Monday but doctors were unable to remove the bullet, which was lodged in the back of the player's head. He is listed in critical but stable condition with doctors cautioning that his life is not yet out of danger.

On Tuesday afternoon, Michel Bauer, president of Club America, planned to open vast Estadio Azteca, Club America's home field, so fans would have a place to gather.

"Those who want to show their love for Chava, this is an appropriate place to do so, in the place where Chava scored so many goals," Bauer, using Cabanas' nickname, told the Mexico City newspaper El Universal.

Cabanas' mother, Basilia Ortega de Cabanas, flew from  Paraguay to Mexico City to be with her son. She was accompanied by Juan Angel Naput, president of the Paraguyan soccer federation, and other officials.

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: Salvador Cabanas gestures after scoring a goal against San Luis during a match on Jan. 17. Credit: Alex Cruz / EPA