The wife of one of two survivors of a deadly shooting and kidnapping in Mexico says she is glad her husband is alive but «heartbroken for the other two families who cannot say the same.»
Eric Williams and LaTavia Washington McGee survived the trip to Mexico that killed two other people, according to officials and family members.
The group of four Americans, all childhood friends, were attacked in Mexico on Friday when they were in the country for a medical procedure for one of them, according to authorities and the family.
More coverage of the deadly kidnapping in Mexico
A fifth person was on the trip from South Carolina. That traveler left just before the group reached the border because that person did not have the necessary documentation to cross into Mexico, a police official told NBC News on Wednesday.
That fifth person could be seen riding with the group, in video taken by Williams.
And of the four who crossed the border, two were found dead before Williams and McGee were returned to the United States on Tuesday, Mexican officials said.
«They’ve all known each other their whole lives,» said Williams’ wife, Michelle Williams. «They are childhood friends.»
The two who died have been identified by family members as Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown.
The group’s minivan was shot at in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, which crosses the US-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas, and gunmen took them away in a vehicle, the FBI said.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the matter has said the cartel gunman may have targeted them in a case of mistaken identity.
Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica said Tuesday that «in regards to this interaction, it appears that it was a mix-up,» but an investigation is ongoing.
The Americans are from South Carolina and were driving to Mexico so they could all share driving duties, relatives said. McGee’s cousin, Aliyah McCleod, said they were going to Mexico so one of them could have a medical procedure.
US State Department Warns Americans do not travel to tamaulipas due to organized crime and kidnapping.
Michelle Williams said she first knew something was wrong on Sunday.
“I didn’t know anything until Sunday morning when the FBI arrived,” he said. “Everything seemed so surreal to me. At first, I thought it was like a scam.»
Williams is from South Carolina, but he and other family members now live in North Carolina, said his older brother, Robert.
“He’s a fun-loving guy,” Robert Williams said. “He is someone who has a zest for life. And he wants to improve your life, put a smile on your face.
Robert Williams last saw his brother about three weeks ago, and had no idea he was in Mexico, but was relieved to be back in the US.
«All I know is that he’s alive,» Robert Williams said. «And that is the most important».
Tamaulipas state governor Américo Villarreal said at a press conference Tuesday that the four were found that morning in a wooden house near a sector called La Lagunona in Matamoros.
A 24-year-old man from Tamaulipas «was found guarding the victims» and detained, he said.
Villarreal said their captors moved the four Americans to various locations in the days before they were found.
A Mexican citizen, a 33-year-old woman, was also killed by a stray bullet, Villarreal said.
The FBI on Tuesday called it a «horrific and violent attack» and said it, along with the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies, continued to investigate to find out the facts of what happened.
“We will do everything in our power to identify, find, and hold accountable the individuals responsible for this attack on American citizens,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. a declaration.
phil helsell and Ken Dilanian contributed.