Campo Elías Delgado

Passport photo of Campo Elias Delgado.
Passport photo of Campo Elias Delgado.

Campo Elías Delgado (14 May 1934 – 4 December 1986) was a Colombian Vietnam War veteran who killed 29 people, and wounded 12 more, most of them at a luxurious Bogotá restaurant called Pozzetto, before apparently being shot dead by police. Since he only had a revolver and a knife and many of the dead were killed by an Uzi, it is alleged that the police were responsible for some of the deaths.

Personal Life

Delgado, born on 14 May 1934, in Chinácota, Colombia, was the son of Rita Elisa Morales. He had a sister who resented him. In 1941 he saw his father commit suicide, and held his mother responsible for this incident his entire life. He was said to have been an excellent student and studied medicine.

In 1970 he reportedly served in the U. S. military in the Vietnam War, even though he was a decade too old to be drafted. Friends reported that his experience in Vietnam had made him antisocial and bitter. A refugee in the streets of New York, he returned to Bogotá after a fight with a thief. Delgado then lived by teaching private English lessons and was taking graduate studies at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. He was no longer able to develop friendships, for which he blamed his mother. As the years went by, he grew more and more resentful of her.

Killing Spree

– Preparation

On December 3, around noon, Delgado entered the Banco de Bogotá to close his bank account and withdraw his entire deposits of $49,896.93. When the cashier handed him a round number of $49,896.50, Delgado insisted on receiving the remaining 43 cents. Either during the afternoon of the same day, or the next morning, Delgado bought a Llama .38-caliber revolver and 500 rounds of ammunition.

– Apartment Buildings

On 4 December 1986, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Delgado went to an apartment building at Calle 118 No. 40-11 and entered apartment 304, where Nora Becerra de Rincón lived together with her 14-year-old daughter Claudia Rincón, whom Delgado had given lessons in English, as well as her 11-year-old son Julio Eduardo, her mother, and a friend of the latter. Besides Nora Becerra and her daughter, nobody was at home at that time. Delgado gagged and handcuffed Nora Becerra and fatally stabbed her four times with a hunting knife on the couch in the living room. He also gagged Claudia Rincón, and bound her hands and feet, before stabbing her 22 times and leaving her dead on a bed. The bodies were found the next day by Julio Eduardo.

At 4:00 p.m., Delgado was back at the apartment he shared with his mother at Carrera 7, Calle 52. At about 5:30 p.m., after a heated argument with her, he walked up behind Rita Delgado and killed her with a single stab to the back of the neck, afterwards wrapping her body in newspapers, sprinkling it with gasoline, and setting it on fire. Delgado then grabbed his revolver and a briefcase containing five boxes of ammunition and the knife, and ran through the apartment complex screaming “¡Fuego! ¡Fuego!” (Fire! Fire!). He went downstairs and rang at apartment 301, where students Inés Gordi Galat and Nelsy Patricia Cortés were living, saying that he needed to call the fire department. As soon as they opened the door, Delgado killed both women with single shots to the head and then proceeded to apartment 302, where he did the same with Gloria Isabel Agudelo León, who had been alarmed by the shooting and opened the door to investigate.

Delgado then headed down to the first floor where he rang at apartment 101, again pretending that he needed to call the fire department. The apartment was occupied by four women, Mrs. Berta Gómez, who saved her life by jumping out into the courtyard, as well as students Matilde Rocío González, Mercedes Gamboa, and María Claudia Bermúdez Durán, who were all shot. González, who had already picked up the telephone receiver, and Gamboa both died at the scene, while Maria Bermúdez died a few hours later in Hospital San José.

Outside the building, Delgado stared a couple of minutes at a poster, advertising a play of Bodas de Sangre at a local theatre. Meanwhile, Mrs. Berta Gómez stopped a police patrol and asked them for help, though, seeing the fire on the fourth floor, the officers responded that this was more a case for firefighters and therefore did not intervene.

Delgado eventually left for house number 201 at Carrera 28A No. 51-31, where the Castro family was living, with whom he was friends for five years. He arrived there about 15 minutes later in a rather agitated state. Against his habit of being a man of rather few words, Delgado talked incessantly, repeated sentences several times, and paced through the living room, declining any of Mrs. Castro’s invitations to sit down. According to Clemencia de Castro, Delgado told her that he had come to say farewell, as he had bought a ticket of no return and would go on a trip to the U.S., or China.

At 6:45 p.m., Delgado left the Castro’s, assuring them that they would soon hear from him, and went to the Pizzería Pozzetto, an Italian restaurant in the Chapinero district, where he ate frequently, discarding the hunting knife on his way. By that time police and journalists were searching for the murderer throughout the city.

– Restaurant Pozzetto

Delgado arrived at the restaurant at around 7:15 p.m. EST, greeted the waiters, and ordered half a bottle of red wine and spaghetti alla bolognese. The waiters noticed that during his meal Delgado went to the restroom several times. After finishing his meal Delgado began to read an American magazine, ordered two screwdrivers, and paid his bill. After drinking a third vodka at around quarter past eight he sat down at the bar to have a fourth.

At about 9:15 p.m., Delgado opened fire on the diners. Delgado shot a total of 32 people, twenty of them fatally, before police arrived ten minutes later. His method was to corner his victim and shoot them at point-blank range in the forehead and then move on to the next victim. Delgado promised himself not to kill any children, but he accidentally killed a six-year-old girl sitting at an adjacent table when his pistol misfired. When police arrived, Delgado turned his attention to them, holding them off for one minute. He was apparently killed with a shot to the temple by a police officer. There is also a belief that Delgado committed suicide. After some time, police discovered with a comparison of the bullets that Delgado was shot by a police officer while he was reloading.

– Victims

Those killed by Delgado were:

  • Nora Isabel Becerra de Rincón
  • Claudia Marcela Rincón, 14, daughter of Nora Becerra
  • Rita Elisa Morales de Delgado, Delgado’s mother
  • Gloria Isabel Agudelo León, 50
  • Gloria Inés Gordi Galat
  • Nelsy Patricia Cortés, 26
  • Matilde Rocío González Rojas, 23
  • Mercedes Gamboa Gonzáles, 20
  • Maria Claudia Bermúdez Durán
  • Diana Cuevas, 45, executive of Revista Cromos
  • Carlos Alfredo Cabal Cabal, leader of the Nuevo Liberalismo in Valle
  • Consuelo Pezantes Andrade
  • Antonio Maximiliano Pezantes
  • Hernando Ladino Benavides, 41
  • Grace Guzmán Valenzuela
  • Giorgio Pindi Vanelli
  • Zulemita Glogower Lester
  • Alvaro J. Montes
  • Jairo Enrique Gómez Remolina, director of Revista Vea
  • Rita Julia Valenzuela de Guzmán, 51
  • Andrés Montaño Figueroa
  • Alvaro Pérez Buitrago, Major in the Colombian military
  • Sonia Adriana Alvarado
  • Guillermo Umaña Montoya
  • Margie Cubillos Garzón, 6
  • Laureano Bautista Fajardo
  • Sandra Henao de López
  • Jose Dario Martinez (just graduated from high school, initially wounded but later died)

Among the wounded were Victor Mauricio Pérez Serrano, Maribel Arce de Pérez, Juliet Robledo, Judith Glogower Lester, Miriam Ortiz de Parrado, Alfonso Cubillos, Yolanda Garzón de Cubillos, Jhon Cubillos Garzón, and Pedro José Sarmiento.

In popular Culture

In 2002, Colombian writer Mario Mendoza Zambrano published Satanás (Satan), a novel that analyzes the case of Delgado. The book was very successful and received several international awards. Mendoza Zambrano met Delgado at the university in Bogotá when he was a literature student, and he actually talked to Delgado just a couple of days before the massacre.

In 2006, Colombian film makers Rodrigo Guerrero (Producer) and Andi Baíz (Director), adapted Satanás into a film (with the same title). The story is framed in a context of urban solitude in the modern world and sheds some light on the motivations and anxieties of Campo Elias Delgado but avoiding explicit or manichean conclusions.




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