On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, officials identified Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown as two American tourists killed during a deadly confrontation between rival gangs last week. On Friday, March 3, 2023, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were traveling with two others to Mexico when they were caught in the crossfire during a terrifying shootout between two cartel members.
The group was then kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to a house, where they were held until they were rescued by authorities on Tuesday. While the other two were found alive in the house, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown did not make it.
Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown succumbed to injuries sustained during the shootout
Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were reportedly accompanying Eric James Williams and Latavia McGee from South Carolina to Mexico so McGee could undergo a tummy tuck procedure.
However, the tourists reportedly got lost shortly after crossing the border into Matamoros, located in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. The area is considered a dangerous territory due to rampant violence in the streets. While trying to find the clinic where McGee was scheduled to undergo the tummy tuck procedure, they found themselves caught in the crossfire between two rival cartel gangs.
A surveillance video showed gunmen opening fire from their car, killing a Mexican woman who was standing in the distance. A graphic video verified by Reuters showed kidnappers forcing the tourists into a white pickup truck. As per the New York Post, Brown and Woodard were killed during the shootout.
McGee, who was injured, and Williams, who was shot in the leg, were rescued on Tuesday morning at a home in a rural area of Tamaulipas. Authorities said that the bodies of Brown and Woodard were also found at the scene.
Irving Barrios, the attorney general for Tamaulipas, said that the injured individuals were transferred to a hospital in Texas, where they are currently undergoing treatment. Barrios added that the bodies of Woodard and Brown will remain in Mexico for examination before being transferred to the US.
Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal said that before the individuals were rescued, the kidnappers reportedly moved them around the area. They took them to a clinic to confuse the authorities into thinking that the group was not abducted but was moving freely.
As per CNN, he said:
“The four people were transferred to different places, including a clinic in order to create confusion and avoid rescue efforts.”
It should be noted that the U.S. State Department has cautioned Americans from visiting Tamaulipas due to increased violence in the area. The State Department website reads:
“Organized crime activity–including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault–is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles travelling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.”
Authorities said that they have arrested a 24-year-old José Guadalupe, who was found guarding the house where the tourists were rescued. Law enforcement is still looking for the other suspects involved in the tragic incident.