A group of men dressed like a mariachi band pulled out rifles and pistols and opened fire in a tourist hotspot in Mexico City, opening fire in a hail of gunfire that left three people dead.
Police said the victims were killed near Plaza Garibaldi, a major tourist destination that was packed for independence day weekend. As Reuters reported, the plaza is filled with mariachi bars, so the sight of the brightly dressed musicians would not have been out of the ordinary.
Police said more than 60 shots were fired, and witnesses described a chaotic scene.
“People were screaming and running,” said a woman who sells cigarettes in the plaza.
Police said three people were killed in the shooting and another seven were injured. They did not say whether it was a targeted shooting or discuss a possible motive.
The area of the shooting was sectioned off by police tape, and the police are investigating whether the shooting is linked to the violent gangs that occupy a neighborhood just next to the plaza. The area has seen an uptick in violence after police arrested the leader of one of those gangs.
As Reuters reported, the Mexico City plaza itself has been known for its rough elements, including strip clubs and dive bars. In 2013, the grandson of civil rights leader Malcolm X was beaten to death in the square in a dispute over a nightclub bill, Reuters noted.
It also comes amid one of the most violent years in Mexico’s history. In July, Mexico’s incoming chief of staff for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said giant swaths of the country are held captive by violence and ruthless gangs. Alfonso Romo said that Mexico needs a new approach to its militarized war on drugs, the Guardian noted. And the president’s new chief of public security, Alfonso Durazo, said there will be a wide-ranging approach to fighting violence that includes raising police salaries, fighting corruption, and looking into the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana.
“The situation in which we find ourselves did not happen overnight … and as a result we aren’t going to resolve it overnight,” Durazo said.
Murders in Mexico have been on the rise for the last four years, reaching record levels in 2017 and soaring by nearly 20 percent in 2018, the Economist noted. Experts said Mexico’s position between the cocaine-producing countries in South America and large markets for the drug in the United States make it a rife battleground for gangs looking to capitalize from the drug trade.
Mexico's capital has seen a surge in homicides since 2014 to record levels. https://t.co/ncnuKOzId6
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) September 15, 2018
Police in Mexico City said they chased the gunman dressed as a mariachi band, who fled the scene of the shooting on motorbikes.