Two of the four Americans who were kidnapped after being shot at by a gang of armed men last week have been found dead, while two others were alive, authorities said on Tuesday. One of the surviving members was wounded, while the other was unharmed. Police have made an arrest in connection to the kidnapping and murders.
The four friends from South Carolina identified as Latavia "Tay" McGee, Shaeed Woodard, Zindell Brown, and Eric James Williams, were kidnapped in broad daylight on Friday as they entered the border city of Matamoros from Texas, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Chilling video footage emerged of the moment the four were kidnapped.
Dead at Last
AmÃ©rico Villarreal Anaya, the governor of Tamaulipas, confirmed the four Americans' condition over the phone at Tuesday's press conference by President AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador.
Governor AmÃ©rico Villarreal stated that the tragedy has received considerable attention and that survivors are receiving medical care, while the president promised those responsible would be "punished."
"There is no impunity, there is someone under arrest" President LÃ³pez Obrador said.
"Those responsible are going to be found, they are going to be punished, as was done when they murdered women and children, in Bavispe, from the LeBarÃ³n, Miller, Langford family. All involved were arrested."
The four Americans who were "deprived of their liberty last Friday," according to the Tamaulipas State Attorney General's Office, were discovered at around 7.30 am on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, two are dead. Investigation and intelligence work continues to capture those responsible. Details will be given later."
"Following your joint work instructions, we have not stopped paying attention to this problem since Friday and approximately an hour ago today we were notified that there were indications of having seen the four American citizens and 35 minutes ago it was fully confirmed by the prosecutor.
"Of the four, two of them are deceased, one person injured and the other is alive. The ambulances and the rest of the security personnel are on their way to give corresponding support for [their] transfer and [any] medical support that can be [given]."
72 Hours End in Tragedy
According to the family members, the group of friends had flown to Mexico for a medical procedure surgery when they were shot at and pushed into a pickup truck. Barbara Burgess, McGee's mother, said that the day of the kidnapping was McGee's date for a tummy tuck surgery. Her friends had traveled with her.
A disturbing video of the kidnapping that went viral online over the weekend shows gunmen aiming their weapons at a white minivan with North Carolina registration plates.
The unnamed assailants are seen forcing a woman onto a truck's flatbed. Two males are tossed into a single flatbed, both of whom appear to be injured or dead.
"This is like a bad dream you wish you could wake up from," Brown's sister Zalandria Brown said of the footage.
"To see a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged, it is just unbelievable."
The massacre claimed the life of one Mexican national. At first, it was believed that the kidnapping was drug-related due to Matamoros' propensity for gun violence during cartel fights.
On the day of the kidnapping, the gunfights were so heated that the US Consulate sent out a warning.
The FBI was reportedly offering a hefty $50,000 reward for the release of the hostages and the capture of their kidnappers at the time of the victims' identification.
The four Americans crossed the border into Mexico so that one could get a cut-price tummy tuck. The Gulf Cartel, a notoriously brutal gang led by the feared La Kena, was believed to have kidnapped them.
According to police sources quoted by the Mexican newspaper Milenio, they were looking into whether La Kena was involved in the capture of McGee, her cousin, and their companions.
Who among the four has survived and who has been savagely slaughtered is yet unknown. Moreover, the specifics of the murders are also not known as of now.