At least 1 Canadian killed, 2 injured in Mexico nightclub shooting
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 16, 2017 8:16AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 16, 2017 9:06PM EST
Global Affairs Canada has confirmed that one Canadian was among at least five people killed in a shooting attack at a popular nightclub in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort Playa del Carmen on Monday. Officials are still investigating reports of a second Canadian fatality.
In an emailed statement, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet said the department was unable to release further details about the victims and that consular officials in Playa del Carmen and Mexico City were in contact with local authorities and assisting Canadian citizens affected by the tragedy. She also confirmed that two Canadians were injured during the incident.
Friends have identified the Canadian man who was killed as 49-year-old Kirk Wilson, who was part of the security detail at a popular music festival. Wilson was said to be married with two children and living in the Hamilton, Ont., area.
“Kirk was just a devoted family man who worked in the industry for a long time,” friend Neil Forester told CTV News Channel on Monday.
“He was well known and recognized. He was the kind of guy that when you needed somebody to kind of have your back and help you out and be there for you, he was the first guy you called.”
The attorney general of Quintana Roo state, Miguel Angel Pech, said the attack began around 2:30 a.m. local time at the Blue Parrot nightclub. The club had been one of a number of venues hosting events during the 10-day BPM electronic music festival.
Reena NeGandhi says she left the club at 2 a.m., shortly before the shots rang out. The Toronto-native woke up to the news that Wilson, a long-time friend from the city’s nightclub scene, had been killed.
“He was always helpful. He was doing his job last night and that’s how he lost his life,” she said.
NeGandhi says everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves when she left the club, noting that security was checking patrons' bags as they entered.
“I had my purse checked. I don’t know how somebody would get in with a gun,” she said.
NeGandhi, who works in marketing and advertising for an Indian denim brand, says she recently spoke to Wilson about relocating to India with her.
“I was just talking to him two days ago about coming to India, doing security there, being my bodyguard,” she said. “We were laughing about the good old days.”
The BPM Festival, which stands for “Bartenders, Promoters and Musicians,” was co-founded by a pair of Canadians and is held annually in the resort town, just south of Cancun, since 2009. The attorney general said four of the five dead appeared to be part of the festival’s security detail.
Pech said a lone gunman entered the nightclub and exchanged gunfire with another person inside. The security guards came under fire when they tried to intervene, according to Pech.
The attorney general has ruled out any kind of terrorist attack. He said a Colombian and an Italian were were among the victims killed. At least 15 other people were injured during the shooting, including two U.S. citizens and a Mexican woman who was seriously injured, Pech said.
Forester said he was shocked, “sad and heartbroken” to learn that Wilson had died in the shooting.
“Without getting into too much detail, Kirk and I travelled across Canada and worked together quite a bit,” he said. “We’ve been in similar situations where unfortunately there’s been gunfire around us and to see the way he handled those situations he was always on top of his game and a professional. I can’t even imagine what the circumstances were when he was there.”
“Somebody said that there was a fight inside the club and the person was actually thrown out. He came back afterwards with a gun and shot,” said NeGandhi.
A Toronto-based entertainment company that employed him also expressed its condolences.
"We can confirm that Kirk Wilson was a longtime employee and great friend of INK Entertainment," the firm said in a statement. "Our team is overcome with grief over this terrible tragedy and would like to express our sincerest condolences to his family and friends for their loss."
The organizers of the electronic music festival released a statement early Monday with their reaction to the violence.
"Three members of the BPM security team were among those whose lives were lost while trying to protect patrons inside the venue," the statement said. "We are overcome with grief over this senseless act of violence and we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement and government officials as they continue their investigation.”
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press