Armando Montaño

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Armando Montaño
Born December 2, 1989
Died June 30, 2012
Mexico City, Mexico
Body discovered
In an apartment elevator shaft near where he was living
Residence Colorado Springs, Colorado
Other names "Mondo"
Ethnicity Hispanic[1]
Education Palmer High School and Grinnell College
Alma mater Grinnell College
Occupation Journalist intern
Employer Associated Press
Known for student journalism
Parents Mario Montaño & Diane Alters

Annual Armando Montaño Scholarships

Mondo Montaño's Scarlet & Black Fund

Armando Montaño (2 December 1989 – 30 June 2012), a 22-year-old American student who had just recently graduated with a bachelor's degree from Grinnell College, was working as a news intern for the Associated Press in Mexico City, Mexico, when he was found dead in an elevator shaft in an apartment building in the Condesa neighborhood of the capital.

One of his last stories was about violence at the Mexico City International Airport between Mexican federal police and corrupt officers as they were on a mission to arrest drug traffickers.[2] He was not on assignment when he died.[3][4][5] The circumstances of his death, as well as the reputation that Mexico has for being a dangerous reporting assignment, led to widespread media coverage.[6][7]

At least two awards have been established in his name.[8]


Condesa Street in the Historical Center of Mexico City.

After learning of his death The Washington Post tweeted that US Embassy in Mexico was investigating his death but retracted the tweet after that assertion appeared incorrect.[9] His family with the help of the AP wanted more details.[10] The Ministry of Public Security (Mexico City) led an investigation into Montaño's death.[11] One year after his death, the case was still open.[12]

Montaño died on the day before the Mexican general election, 2012 but was not reporting on the election. KUSA in Denver, Colorado reported that his last story for the AP was about a shooting involving police and corrupt officers, in which 3 police officers were killed.[2] As a result of that shootout, Mexico replaced just under 350 federal police at the airport in August.[13] Even though the Mexican Drug War has taken a toll on journalists throughout Mexico, no US journalist has been confirmed to be murdered as a result of it.[9][14] Documentary filmmaker Bradley Will was killed in Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, Mexico while covering a protest.[14][15] Journalist Philip True was killed in the village of Salmotita, Jalisco, Mexico in 1998 as a result of a robbery.[14][16] On 21 May 2012, Zane Plemmons was reported to be missing in Mexico but nothing has been found that points to a conclusion in his case.[17][18]


Armando Montaño was from Colorado Springs, Colorado and an aspiring journalist at the time of his death. He was a 22 year-old graduate of Grinnell College where he majored in Spanish with a concentration in Latin American studies.[3][4][5] He was a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists.[3][19] A friend of Montaño told Metro Weekly that Montaño appreciated the perspective and insights gained from identifying as "half-white, half-Mexican, and openly gay."[20]

Born in Massachusetts, he moved to Colorado with his parents, Mario Montaño and Diane Alters, but he also lived in Costa Rica for two years as a child[21] and spent time in Argentina[22] and the US-Mexico border.[3] Montaño's father is a professor and chair of the anthropology department at Colorado College, while his mother is an academic communications specialist and former assistant editor for the Denver Post.[13][23]

Montaño is Mexican-American as his father is a first generation Mexican-American from Texas. His mother is white, and Montaño stated in one of his articles that his cousins would call him "Wexican" to refer to his lighter skin.[1] Montaño enjoyed cooking and when he lived in Argentina, he would cook for his friends there. He learned how to cook from his dad starting from the age of five. He said it taught him how to channel his frustrations of growing up biracial in the United States and allowed him to create foods that were neither Mexican nor American cuisine.[1]

Services were held 15 July 2012 for Montaño at Shove Memorial Chapel on the Colorado College campus.[8][23]


While attending the Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Armando Montaño wrote for the school newspaper and interviewed actress Daryl Hannah and director John Sayles for an interview about their Colorado-based movie "Silver City".[13] In 2007, Montaño was chosen as a guest columnist for the "Colorado Voices" in the Denver Post. He also completed four internships before his death, which allowed him to write political and investigative stories. The newspapers he held the internships with were The New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Seattle Times and Colorado Independent.[4][13] Montaño also wrote for the Grinnell College school newspaper, known as the Scarlet & Black, in Grinnell, Iowa.[22] He was also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists.[4][5]


Armando Montaño died in Mexico City, Mexico on 30 June 2012. He was pronounced dead after being found in an elevator shaft in an apartment building near his home in the fashionable Condesa neighborhood in the capital.[4] During Montaño's time in Mexico City, he was interning for the Associated Press.

While Montaño was in Mexico, it was considered one of the more dangerous countries for journalists. Although Montaño was not on an assignment at the time of his death, the authorities opened an investigation into the incident.[13] The initial investigation of the situation led to an announcement by the Attorney General of Mexico in July that Montaño's clothing had been caught in the elevator machinery which led to the accident and it was unrelated to his reporting,[14] but his family said that was not correct.[13] The investigation in Mexico City is ongoing as of 13 December 2012, according to the Associated Press.[24]

THE ADDED CITY is located in Mexico.
Mexico City
Mexico City
Mentioned locations within Mexico relative to the capital Mexico City.


Armando Montaño's memorial service at Grinnell College was attended by students, professors, and other faculty members.[22] Montaño became close with professors while at Grinnell College who noted the positive direction of his career at the time of his death. Eliza Willis, professor of Latin American politics, said, “He was very intense about his career plans and his desire to become a journalist."[21] Sarah Purcell, an associate professor of history and director of the Rosenfield Public Affairs Program, said, "He was a remarkable person. My first impression of him was to be incredibly impressed with his enthusiasm and intelligence."[21] She also mentioned his progress: "I’ve seen a lot of reports calling him an aspiring journalist. I think he already was a journalist. He was doing incredible reporting from Mexico. I think it's really a loss for the future of journalism."[21]

Montaño worked for the Associated Press at the time of his death, and Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, said, "The loss of Armando is a terrible shock to the AP staff members who were fortunate enough to call him a colleague".[10] And Barb Ellis, Denver Post spokeswoman, said, "His editors here were certain he would go far in the field he loved. Journalism has lost a rising star."[10]

In popular culture[edit]

Armando Montaño appeared as a model for Metro Weekly's "Coverboy" series in its 11 August 2011 issue under the name "Mondo" when he was 21 years old. In the interview, he revealed that Helen Thomas was an influence in journalism. At the time he was entering his senior year at Grinnell College and studying Spanish and Latin American studies and looking forward to a career in journalism and politics. He posed for medium close-up photographs for the issue. A peer who attended a scholarship program with Montaño said he was excited to be selected for the series.[20][25]


Shortly after his death, several scholarships and funds were created in memory of Armando Montaño. The annual Armando Montaño Scholarships will be awarded by the New York Times Student Journalism Institute to help deserving students,[26] and the Mando Montaño's Scarlet & Black Fund was established help Grinnell College improve its student newspaper.[8][22]

While a student, Freedom Forum for Diversity named him a 2011 Chips Quinn Scholar for which he attended training, the National Press Club awarded him its 2008 Ellen Masin Persina Scholarship, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists named him a 2008 Newhouse Scholar.[3][5][19]

Published works of journalism[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Montano, Armando (2012-03-17). "The unexpected lessons of Mexican food". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  2. ^ a b Armando Montano and Katherine Corcoran for the Associated Press (2012-06-26). "Mexico airport shooting points to running problems". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "US journalist found dead in Mexico City". Telegraph (UK). 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Snow, Anita (Associated Press) (2012-07-02). "Aspiring Colorado Spring journalist Armando Montano dies in Mexico City". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  5. ^ a b c d Snow, Anita (Associated Press) (2012-07-02). "Armando Montano Obituary: View Armando Montano's Obituary by New York Times". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  6. ^ "AP Intern, Armando Montano, Found Dead in Mexico City | Video - ABC News". 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  7. ^ "Associated Press intern Armando Montano found dead in Mexico City - World News". 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  8. ^ a b c "Armando Montano, AP Intern Who Died In Mexico, Remembered At Service". 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  9. ^ a b "Don't assume AP intern's cause of death". CJR. 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  10. ^ a b c Draper, Electa (2012-07-02). "Colorado family seeks answers in death of 22-year-old son in Mexico". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  11. ^ "Noticias MVS: Muerte del periodista Armando Montaño podría ser producto de un accidente: PGJDF" (in Spanish). 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  12. ^ Cheek, Tessa (July 22, 2013). "The Story after the Story: Remembering Armando Montaño a Year Later". The Colorado Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Mexico replaces all federal police at key airport". Deutsche Welle. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  14. ^ a b c d "PGR says U.S. journalist killed in Mexico was accident " Justice in Mexico". 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  15. ^ "Bradley Will - Journalists Killed". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  16. ^ "Philip True - Journalists Killed". Committee to Protect Journalists. 1998-12-15. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  17. ^ Bruner, Raisa (2012-06-26). "US Journalist Disappears in Mexico Drug Cartel Stronghold - ABC News". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  18. ^ EFE (2006-12-31). "Hallan muerto a periodista estadounidense en la capital mexicana". Proceso. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  19. ^ a b Chris Geidner (2012-07-02). "Armando Montano, 22-year-old out gay journalist, found dead in Mexico City - Last Word". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  20. ^ a b Riley, John (2012-12-13). "Remembering Armando Montano: Former Coverboy with immense promise died in 2012". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  21. ^ a b c d Zilbermints, Regina (2012-07-02). "Grinnell community mourns young journalist who died in Mexico | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Celebrating Mando | Scarlet & Black". 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  23. ^ a b "Services Sunday for AP intern Armando Montano". The Denver Post. 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  24. ^ Romenesko, Jim (2012-12-13). "AP intern Armando Montano's death still under investigation" (blog). Retrieved 2012-12-23. 
  25. ^ Vankim, Julian (2011-08-11). "Coverboy: Mondo". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  26. ^ "About the Institute". The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 

External links[edit]