Three gunmen dressed as mariachi musicians killed four people and wounded six more last night at a square popular with tourists in downtown Mexico City.
The attack occurred just before 10:00pm at a small bar in a corner of Plaza Garibaldi, a square known as the capital’s home of mariachi music.
Three men died at the scene of the crime while one more died after being taken to hospital, according to city government officials who spoke to the newspaper Milenio.
The gunmen arrived and fled on motorcycles.
The sicarios, or hitmen, are believed to be members of La Unión de Tepito, a criminal gang based in the notoriously dangerous neighborhood of Tepito, located just over a kilometer northeast of Plaza Garibaldi.
Gun violence has increased in the area since the arrest last month of Roberto Moyado Esparza, the suspected leader of the same gang
According to preliminary police reports, the victims are members of a rival criminal gang known as the Anti-Unión, which is involved in a turf war with La Unión de Tepito over drug dealing in the central Mexico City borough of Cuauhtémoc.
Police found more than 50 spent bullet casings at the business where the crime occurred, which according to the Mexico City Attorney General’s office has been used by the Anti-Unión to sell and store drugs.
“There were people apparently socializing in a business . . . [where the aggressors] arrived. There were three deaths there and people wounded, among those the woman who was running the business where the victims were found. In their escape, [the gunmen] wounded four more people and fled on three motorcycles,” said Mexico City police chief Raymundo Collins.
A man who has worked around Plaza Garibaldi for 30 years said that “nothing like this has ever happened before.”
A disabled woman who sells cigarettes in the square said that “people were screaming and running” as the gunshots rang out, which she initially thought were fireworks.
“You come completely relaxed and to have a good time and then suddenly there are gunshots. You don’t know if you’re going to get back home,” a tourist told the news agency Reuters.
“Now, you’re not going to trust mariachis because the gunmen were dressed as mariachis.”
Until 2014, Mexico City was largely spared the high levels of violent crime that have plagued other parts of Mexico.
But since then the number of homicides has surged and between January and April, the capital recorded its most violent first four-month period of any year of the past two decades.
UPDATE: Six people are confirmed to have been killed, and seven wounded.