Gunmen pose as mariachi band, kill five at independence celebration

Police patrol the plaza as musicians continue to perform. (YouTube)

By Mallory McBride
Staff Writer

Independence Day celebrations were disrupted in Mexico City on Sept. 14 when three gunmen, dressed as mariachi musicians, opened fire, killing five and injuring eight in Garibaldi Plaza, according to ABC.

The plaza is an iconic tourist square and a popular performance space for mariachi bands.

At the time of the shooting, dozens of performers and spectators occupied the area, according to CNN.

The gunmen opened fire at about 10 p.m. and then fled on motorbikes, according to Reuters. Roughly 60 bullet cases were found at the scene, according to forensic officials.

“‘People were screaming and running,’” a woman who sells cigarettes at Garibaldi Plaza told Reuters. The woman initially thought the gunshots were fireworks.

Three victims died at the scene, while another two were taken to the hospital, where they later died as a result of injuries.

The victims, three men and two women, ranged in age from 22 to 46, according to CNN.

Two individuals have been brought in for questioning by police. It is unknown if either of the individuals being questioned are suspects, according to CNN.

Alejandro Hope, a Mexican security expert, explained that the incident appears to have been orchestrated by an organized crime group, and he doubts that it was just a random incident.

The shooters targeted a specific restaurant on the Plaza, which may have been a show of protection against their rivals or part of a shakedown for money, according to ABC.

Plaza Garibaldi borders the Tepito neighborhood, home of the Union Tepito gang.

The head of Union Tepito, “El Betito,” was arrested in August. There may be a connection between that arrest and the events that unfolded at Garibaldi Plaza, according to ABC.

Reuters reported that the Tepito neighborhood has experienced a wave of violence since the arrest of “El Betito.”

“‘Nothing like this has ever happened before,’” a man named Samuel, who worked around the square for thirty years, told Reuters. He declined to give his last name.

Following the shooting, however, business at the Garibaldi Plaza continued as usual. Some mariachi performers continued playing as police conducted the investigation, according to ABC.

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