Three Canadian visitors have been shot by a lone gunman in their hotel in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen – in an attack security officials are calling targeted and alleging involved individuals with criminal records.
One of the tourists died of their injuries while being transported to hospital following the incident on Friday, according to the Quintana Roo state public security secretary, Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez, who confirmed the nationality of the victims.
The state prosecutor’s office later tweeted that a second Canadian had died of their injuries.
The first person who died – identified as ATCH – “had a criminal record: drug trafficking, use of a false identity, among other things”, the office said.
ATCH “was considered a very dangerous person in Canada”, state prosecutor Óscar Montes de Oca Rosales told Radio Fórmula.
The second deceased victim, RJD, “also had a criminal history”, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Information shared on social media showed a lone attacker dressed in a grey tracksuit and brandishing a pistol on the grounds of the Xcaret hotel. A video posted on Twitter showed people shrieking as a victim received first aid. The video later panned to show two more victims lying wounded by the pool – one heavily bleeding.
“He’s still breathing,” one person could be heard saying amid the chaos.
The attacker escaped into the thick tropical vegetation surrounding Xcaret – which is famed for its theme parks on the Riviera Maya – and remains at large. Hernández Gutiérrez said the shooting “stemmed from a discussion between hotel guests”.
Global Affairs Canada said in a short statement it is “aware of reports that Canadian citizens have been affected by an incident in Mexico”.
The attack at a luxury hotel compound comes amid a string of shootouts on the Yucatan peninsula’s Mayan Riviera, which have killed or injured tourists who were caught in the crossfire.
A team of at least 10 gunmen stormed a beach at a luxury hotel near Cancún in November, killing a person linked to a rival faction and dragging away another person trying to hide.
A Californian travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in October at a restaurant in Tulum, south of Playa del Carmen, during a shootout between suspected gang members.
The region draws in millions of tourists annually – including during the coronavirus pandemic as Mexico has imposed no Covid tests or vaccination requirements for travellers.
But many of Mexico’s major drug cartels are disputing the region, where they run extortion rackets and deal drugs to tourists.
State officials have blamed the rising violence on disputes over drug dealing – with foreign tourists being the biggest buyers.