LGBT tourists at five star Cancun resort dash for shelter as ‘rival drug dealers’ battle on Mexican beach

A seaside ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration for LGBT travellers was sent into ‘panic’ when armed gangsters arrived by boat and shot two suspected rivals dead

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
,Io Dodds
Friday 05 November 2021 04:27
Resort guests take shelter in lobby as two dead in rival drug gang beach melee
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Guests at a five-star Cancun resort were sent scrambling for shelter on Thursday when rival groups of alleged drug dealers engaged in a gun battle on the beach.

Mexican officials said no tourists had been seriously harmed in the attack at the Hyatt Ziva Riviera resort in Bahía Petempich, Mexico, which left two alleged gangsters dead and one guest mildly injured.

The hotel had been hosting a week-long ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration for hundreds of LGBT travellers when a group of armed criminals, described by Mexican media as “commandos”, arrived by boat and triggered a “rain of gunfire”.

The province attorney general said the gunshots sprang from a confrontation between “antagonistic groups of drug dealers”, one of whom was arrested.

A report from a Mexican government command centre suggested that about 15 armed people were involved, while one person may have been have been kidnapped and taken away in a boat. Officials said no tourists had been kidnapped.

Andrew Krop, a publicist in Montana whose husband Eric was at the hotel to sing for the LGBT gathering, told The Independent that Eric had been returning to the beach after finishing a measure of tequila at the hotel bar just before noon local time when he heard at least 20 gunshots.

“Men with machine guns had stormed the beach,” said Andrew Krop, whose account of events was confirmed to The Independent by Eric. “He ran back into the hotel and ended up in some random room with one of the housekeepers.

“They barricaded the door with mattresses – there were two queen mattresses in the room – and just tried to stay as quiet as possible.”

Troy Petenbrink, a travel writer who was also on the LGBT trip organised by New York holiday company Vacaya, told the Metro Weekly: “We had literally just arrived and were walking to the beach when a rain of gunfire happened, and people all started running from the beach and pool area to take cover.

“It was chaos as people ran from the pool and beach. Many people [were] falling on the wet ground. It was slippery as hell.”

Mr Peterbrink and his husband were hustled into their room with seven other guests and a Vacaya staff member, where they locked the doors and hid behind furniture.

The incident immediately sparked fear and confusion, with some guests sending news and video from their hotel while it was still unclear what was happening.

“All guests and employees told to duck, and we’re all taken to hiding places at Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun Resort. Active shooter? Terrorist or kidnapping threat? They’re not telling us anything,” former NBC executive Mike Sington tweeted.

He later added: “Guests are telling me they were playing volleyball on the beach, gunman approached firing gun. Everyone ran form beach and swimming pools. Staff hustled us into hiding rooms behind the kitchens.”

During the chaos, Eric was able to call Andrew from the hotel room’s phone, whispering because he feared there might still be shooters prowling the hotel. Andrew immediately began calling the US embassy and relatives.

“My initial thought was that you hear of drug cartels kidnapping tourists and holding them for ransom, then killing them anyway, and I was really dreading that that was the case,” he said.

However, Mexican troops or armed police soon arrived and secured the resort. Mr Sington posted video with a hotel staff member telling the crowd that they “were all safe at this time”, and another saying that “the suspect has been apprehended.”

Eric Krop confirmed that he and the other guests were safe on Twitter, quipping: “Didn’t have running from bullets on my 2021 bingo card.”

Jim Wildermuth, a hotel guest and US citizen from Atlanta, told ABC News that he had heard shots fired at the location and described the noise as “cracks.”

He said he had been told to shelter in place as there was an active shooter on the property.

The US embassy in Mexico said that the US consulate and authorities were aware of the reports but could not verify if they were accurate.

“We are aware of the situation and our office there is working with local law enforcement,” the embassy official said.

Mr Petenbrink said the attack did not appear to have been targeting LGBT tourists. “Under the circumstances, Vacaya staff did an excellent job of quickly organising their guests and sharing real time information via text messaging,” he said.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts, which runs the nearby Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun, released a statement after the reported incident.

“Our team at Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun is closely monitoring developments following a shooting that took place on the beach near the resort,” the statement said.

“No guests or employees were harmed. As always, the safety and security of our guests are of our utmost concern. An investigation is currently underway and we are doing whatever we can to facilitate and support the work of local officials.

“Any questions about the incident should be directed to local authorities.”

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