A man who spent much of the last five years searching for his missing daughter was killed Wednesday in the northern Veracruz city of Tuxpan.
José Jesús Jiménez Gaona became an advocate for missing people and their families in his own community after the disappearance of his 23-year-old daughter, Jenny Isabel Jiménez, 2011. He was also one of the newest members of the National Search Brigade for Disappeared People, which has been active recently in the state of Veracruz.
Jímenez and his wife, Francisca Vázquez Mendoza, had reportedly been meeting with other members of the search organization regarding a second visit to the Córdoba-Amatlán region of the state, where human remains were found by the group in April.
On Wednesday, three people aboard a pickup truck overtook Jiménez’ vehicle on a Tuxpan road and opened fire with assault rifles. Jiménez died at the scene while Vázquez sustained three gunshot wounds and was transferred to a Poza Rica hospital.
Members of the brigade told the news website Animal Político that Jiménez and Vázquez had been members of the organization for just a month.
“What just happened to José Jesús is another example of what can happen to us, the people that are looking for their missing relatives. Unfortunately, we can end up dead, like my colleague,” said Mario Vergara, a member of The Other Disappeared from Iguala, one of the brigade’s founding organizations.
“We are very afraid because justice in this country is missing, suspended. But we try to overcome our fears so we can continue looking for our loved ones.”
Jiménez was also active in Family Members in Search María Herrera, an organization that was formed by María Herrera after she lost four of her children. Two of her sons, who worked in the family’s scrap metal business, disappeared while traveling in Guerrero in 2010.
When two more sons went into the business two years later, they too disappeared while they were on the road.