The four Americans who were shot at and kidnapped in Mexico have been identified by their families as a group of friends who had crossed the US-Mexico border for a cosmetic medical procedure. The four friends have been identified as Latavia "Tay" McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown and Eric James Williams, who are still missing with the FBI already in action.
This came as Mexico President AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador also confirmed that the four men had crossed the border to buy medicine but ended up caught in the crossfire between two armed groups as they were mistaken for Haitian smugglers by the Mexican drugs cartel.
Wrong Place Wrong Time
According to family members who spoke to ABC News and The Associated Press, Latavia "Tay" McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williamsâwho are still missingâhad gone to Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure on Friday.
"This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from," said Brown's sister Zalandria Brown. "To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable."
Shocking video footage captured the horrifying moment the four American friends are loaded onto a pickup truck's flatbed after being shot at and kidnapped in Mexico. The victims were first shot at by several gunmen just as they entered the border city of Matamoros.
According to the FBI, the group arrived in Matamoros via Brownsville, Texas. According to Obrador, they were going to get medicine but were caught in the crossfire between two armed groups after arriving in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.
Brown claimed that two of her brother's friends went along with a third friend to have a tummy tuck surgery.
Barbara Burgess, the mother of McGee, 54, told ABC News that she was worried about her daughter's trip for cosmetic surgery and advised her not to go.
However, before beginning the journey on Wednesday, her daughter told her, "Mom, I'll be okay," she recounted.
On Friday, McGee was supposed to undergo surgery. According to Burgess, she called her mother to let her know she was 15 minutes away from the doctor's office. Her daughter has not spoken to her since. "Her phone just started going to voicemail," Burgess told the news station.
FBI Struggles Amid Mounting Tension
The four friends had just crossed the southern border from Texas into the infamously notorious city of Matamoros in Tamaulipas when their white minivan came under fire and they were seized by gunmen.
In a startling YouTube video of the alleged kidnapping, men wearing bulletproof vests shove a woman into the flatbed of a white pickup truck before hauling and dumping a man inside. Then they dragged two more men onto the flatbed and over the dirt.
Two of the men seemed to be unresponsive, possibly dead, according to the video and a witness, while the woman was sitting up in the rear.
"The other two they dragged across the pavement, we don't know if they were alive or dead," said the witness who asked not to be named to protect herself.
According to a statement made on Monday by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, an "innocent" Mexican citizen was killed in the incident. He did not provide any further information, but he did say that several US justice agencies were collaborating with their Mexican counterparts to locate the missing American people.
A U.S. official with knowledge of the incident told CNN on Monday that the cartel henchmen confused the group with Haitian smugglers.
The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for the safe return of the victims and the capture of the shooters. The death of a Mexican national in the shooting in broad daylight was also verified by the Mexican President.
According to a witness who spoke to The Associated Press about the kidnapping, the minivan was hit by another car at a crossroads before shots were fired at it Soon, another vehicle pulled up, and several men got out of it.
"All of a sudden they (the gunmen) were in front of us," she said. "I entered a state of shock, nobody honked their horn, nobody moved. Everybody must have been thinking the same thing, 'if we move they will see us, or they might shoot us.'"
Matamoros is infamous for gang wars. The U.S. Embassy in Matamoros issued a warning on Friday due to the danger posed by shootouts between rival gangs.