Gun­men in mari­achi garb kill four

Mex­i­cans cel­e­brat­ing In­de­pen­dence Day have been jolted by shoot­ings that killed four peo­ple, wounded nine

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Amy Guthrie in­ves­ti­ga­tors

MEX­ICO CITY — Mex­i­cans head­ing into the week­end's In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions were jolted by a brazen shoot­ing by men dressed as mari­achi mu­si­cians who killed four peo­ple and wounded nine in Garibaldi Plaza, an iconic square in the cap­i­tal where the bands ser­e­nade tourists.

The Mex­ico City pros­e­cu­tors' of­fice said at least one for­eigner was among those wounded in Fri­day night's at­tack, which lo­cal me­dia said was staged by three gun­men.

The news out­let La Silla Rota cir­cu­lated sur­veil­lance video of the alleged as­sailants wear­ing tra­di­tional em­broi­dered jack­ets and pants as they fled on mo­tor­cy­cles.

The shoot­ing cast a bloody pall over In­de­pen­dence Day fes­tiv­i­ties. Many Mex­i­cans will wear mari­achi cos­tumes, a sym­bol of na­tional pride, on Satur­day night to com­mem­o­rate the launch of the re­volt against Span­ish rule on Sept. 16, 1810. It is also the busiest time of year for Garibaldi Plaza, a beloved but seedy square that draws heav­ily on Mex­i­can folk­lore.

Lisa Sanchez, di­rec­tor of Mex­i­cans United Against Delin­quency, de­scribed the shoot­ing as a “pierc­ing por­trait” of Mex­ico. The shoot­ing in a crowded pub­lic square demon­strates that im­punity pre­vails in the coun­try, she said.

The pros­e­cu­tors' of­fice said were try­ing to find those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack. Few crimes in Mex­ico are solved.

On Satur­day night, Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto is to shout “Viva Mex­ico” — or “Long Live Mex­ico” — shortly be­fore mid­night from a bal­cony of the Na­tional Palace. Thou­sands crowd into Mex­ico City's cen­tral Zocalo square ev­ery year to hear the shout, and the cel­e­bra­tion usu­ally spills into Garibaldi Plaza.

Busi­ness quickly re­sumed around the square fol­low­ing the shoot­ing. Videos cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia showed mu­si­cians in the plaza play­ing their mu­sic around the time of the shoot­ing, with­out skip­ping a beat.

In one video, a man pluck­ing a large harp con­tin­ues to belt out the Mex­i­can civil war anthem “La Cu­caracha” as dozens of gun­shots can be heard in the back­ground.

In another, brass in­stru­ments and melan­cholic voices fill the air as the flash­ing lights of po­lice ve­hi­cles de­scend on the plaza. Pa­trons con­tin­ued to down tequi­las and tuck into tacos.

At the Te­nampa cantina, which bills it­self as hav­ing first brought mari­achi troupes to the plaza in the 1920s, a man­ager said it was busi­ness as usual Satur­day.

“We haven't had any reser­va­tions can­celled and we con­tinue to book ta­bles,” he said, ask­ing that his name not be pub­lished for fear of re­tal­i­a­tion by crim­i­nal groups.

Crimes and scams have plagued Garibaldi Plaza for years. Mal­colm X's grand­son Mal­colm Shabazz was found beaten to death out­side a bar there in 2013 af­ter a dis­pute over a bill.

A Mex­i­can se­cu­rity ex­pert, Ale­jan­dro Hope, said the Fri­day shoot­ing ap­peared to be a hit by an or­ga­nized crime group. Garibaldi Plaza bor­ders the gritty Tepito neigh­bor­hood, home to the Union Tepito gang that has been ex­tort­ing busi­nesses across the cap­i­tal.

The sus­pected head of Union Tepito, a man known as “El Betito,” was ar­rested in Au­gust. That ar­rest may have set off a bat­tle for lead­er­ship and turf. A ri­val gang called the Anti-Union Force is be­lieved to hang around Garibaldi.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

On­look­ers gather on the perime­ters of a crime scene af­ter a shoot­ing in Garibaldi Plaza in Mex­ico City, on Fri­day. Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties say at least four peo­ple have been killed and nine wounded in a shoot­ing at the cap­i­tal's iconic plaza.

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