The two Americans who were found dead in Mexico after being kidnapped at gunpoint during a horrifying shootout between two warring gangs were identified on Tuesday as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown. Another victim was found wounded, while the fourth American is reportedly safe.
The four friends had traveled to Mexico after crossing the border for a medical procedure when they were kidnapped by gunmen on Friday. On Tuesday, authorities announced that two of them were found dead. Meanwhile, the harrowing moment one of the victims was rescued safely from a run-down stash home in Mexico, six miles from the location where she and three friends were kidnapped has emerged.
The Dead and The Alive
According to family members, Woodard and Brown traveled to Mexico from South Carolina with Latavia "Tay" McGee and Eric James Williams so that McGee, a mother of six, to have a tummy tuck surgery.
The four entered the dangerous city of Matamoros, which is located in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, on Friday, but not long after entering, they realized they were lost.
According to CNN, the group was unable to locate the medical facility where McGee, 33, was scheduled to undergo surgery that Friday and had trouble reaching it due to the area's poor mobile coverage.
Unfortunately, the four found themselves in the middle of a bloody cartel shootout as they searched for the location of the medical facility.
On Tuesday, police found the four. According to Mexican authorities, McGee and one of her friends Eric Williams, who was shot in the left leg, luckily survived the ordeal.
They were transported to Brownsville, Texas in a convoy of ambulances and SUVs escorted by Mexican military Humvees and National Guard trucks with mounted .50-caliber machine guns.
Williams suffered a gunshot wound to his left leg but he is out of danger and receiving treatment, Tamaulipas Gov. AmÃ©rico Villarreal said.
McGee is the only one who survived the ordeal without any physical injuries. The bodies of Woodard and Brown would be examined by local officials before being sent to the United States, the governor noted.
According to Barrios, the tourists were found in a shack on the way to "Bagdad Beach" on the Gulf coast in the rural Ejido Tecolote area east of Matamoros.
Chilling photos have emerged of McGee being rescued from the shack. The horror of the incident can be seen on McGee's face as she is pictured bare feet and coated in dirt.
Barbara Burgess, McGee's mother, told ABC 15 on Tuesday night that she had spoken to her daughter, who was shaken but unharmed.
Photos of McGee escaping captivity were taken at a stash house in the small rural village of El Tecolote, about six and a half miles from Matamoros, where the group was found.
"She's alive. I talked to her. The nurse at the hospital called and let me talk to her," said Burgess.
"She was crying. I asked her how she was doing. She doing okay. She was crying because her brother got killed and she watched him die. She watched two of them die. They died in front of her."
Meanwhile, Villarreal claimed that a man who had been guarding them had been arrested.
He also added that the American hostages had been transferred about by their captors and at one point they had been taken to a medical clinic "to create confusion and avoid efforts to rescue them."
Retha Darby, the aunt of McGee and Woodard, revealed to The New York Post on Tuesday from her home in South Carolina that the two were first cousins.
She claimed that she had learned about the surgery from her niece.
"She came by and visit me. She said I'm gonna be going to get surgery. I said surgery on what? She said tummy tuck. She said 'my tummy getting too big.' That was about a week ago," Darby recalled of her last conversation with her 33-year-old niece.
"I didn't know where she was going. I thought it was somewhere local."
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, stated that he wanted "to see accountability for the violence that has been inflicted on these Americans that tragically led in the death of two of them."
The government is " working with Mexican officials to learn more and to have all Americans returned to the United States," said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Meanwhile, the American media's depiction of the incident was criticized by the president of Mexico, AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador.