Last Friday, four Black Americans were attacked and kidnapped by a gunman in Mexico. On Tuesday, two of them were found dead while the other two were found alive.
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33-year-old Latavia “Tay” Washington McGee, a mother of six who was identified to CNN by a close friend, traveled into the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, from Brownsville, Texas, after driving there from South Carolina, to get a cosmetic procedure done, and she was accompanied by her cousin, Shaeed Woodard, and two friends, Zindell Brown, and Eric Williams.
The survivors — Eric James Williams and Latavia “Tay” McGee — have returned to the U.S., their families said.
According to the FBI, at some point during the trip, gunmen opened fire on the vehicle. The assailants then loaded the victims into another vehicle and then drove away. U.S. officials said Investigators believe a Mexican drug cartel likely mistook them for Haitian drug smugglers.
Brown, 28, was identified to U.S. authorities by his mother, Christina Hickson, who told ABC affiliate WPDE that she identified her son from footage of the kidnapping shared online.
“I was able to follow each one as they would be placed on the truck,” she said. “I knew immediately that was him.”
Brown’s sister, Zalandria Brown, said she also saw the footage and recalled the horror of seeing “a member of your family thrown in the back of a truck and dragged.”
From the Washington Post:
Video and photographs from the scene verified by The Washington Post show armed men wearing protective vests forcing a woman into the back of a white pickup and dragging three other people to the truck, with a trail of what appears to be blood on the ground. A fifth person can be seen lying on the sidewalk, apparently injured. The U.S. ambassador to Mexico said in a statement that “an innocent Mexican citizen” was killed in the confrontation.
McGee’s friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told CNN she became worried when neither she nor McGee’s family was able to reach her or any of the members of her group and received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that Washington McGee never made it to the surgery.
“Her other cousin, who previously went with her to Matamoros for the first procedure, made a post asking if anyone’s heard from her,” Washington McGee’s friend told CNN.
She told CNN that when she spoke to Washington McGee’s cousin, she became increasingly concerned when the cousin told her that the doctor’s office had reached out to her asking about Washington McGee because she never made it to the surgery.
“We’ve been calling all of their phones and it’s just going to voicemail. I called her mom too and she told me she hasn’t been able to contact them either. That’s when I knew something was wrong,” said the friend.
In a phone call during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s daily news conference, Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal announced shortly after the group’s discovery that “approximately one hour ago we confirmed that the four Americans were located.”
“Thirty-five minutes ago we got confirmation from the prosecutor’s office that of the four people, two were found dead, one wounded and one alive,” Villarreal said, according to the Post. “Ambulances are rushing to the area to recover them and offer them medical care.”
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As for the status of the suspected shooters, Mexican security secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said only that a suspect has been detained.