A group of gunmen opened fire Thursday afternoon at a luxury seaside resort in Cancun packed with American vacationers, according to Mexican officials and eyewitnesses.
The terrifying incident reportedly began shortly after 3 p.m., when armed men descended on the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun and began shooting.
In a statement, police in Quintana Roo attributed the gunfire to “armed individuals” who “took the lives of two men who are presumed to be drug dealers,” and that no tourists were “seriously injured or kidnapped.”
Vacationers said the shooting sent them scrambling to hide. Randle Roper, whose company, Vacaya, organizes LGBTQ package tours, is staying at the resort with a group of travelers from the U.S. He confirmed to The Daily Beast that there was a shooter on the grounds and that he and the other guests were sheltering in place.
Andrew Krop said his husband, Eric, who is at the resort, called and told him he “just ran” when he realized what was happening.
“He said he was on the beach and there was someone with a machine gun that started firing,” Krop, from Montana, told The Daily Beast, adding that he’s received an update from Eric that “the guests had been gathered in the resort lobby and they’re safe.”
Brian Minish Malinconico, a hotel guest on vacation from the U.S., told The Daily Beast in a text message that they heard “100s” of rounds fired.
“Thought glass broke at a restaurant, then firework sounds, then everyone from the beach [came] running. Got into a room and stayed,” he wrote.
Another witness, D.C. think-tank staffer Vincente Garcia, who was tweeting about the incident as it was happening, told The Daily Beast he was “very close to the gunshots.”
“They were quick shots which made me think it was like a machine gun,” he wrote in a message.
NBC Universal exec Mike Sington posted video online from the scene as the attack unfolded. He wrote that resort employees were “not telling us anything.”
In a subsequent video of guests congregating in the lobby, he wrote: “Active shooter at Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun Resort. All guests confined to lobby now. Hotel staff huddled together in corner. Still no announcement or update from hotel, Hyatt, or police. Several guests have now told be they saw gunman come up from the beach, actively shooting.”
He later posted a photo of himself barricaded in his room, door blocked by chairs stacked on top of one another.
Other videos showed shellshocked tourists huddled in the hotel lobby wearing swimsuits, and rattled resort employees hugging each other and crying.
Another vacationer, Jack Aaronson, told The Daily Beast he dove into his room to hide when he “saw people running and yelling ‘active shooter.’”
“My understanding is this was a drug cartel issue and we were just in the wrong place,” he wrote in a text message. “We all dove into our rooms and sheltered in place as quietly as possible.”
“Some of our guests were on the beach. One said the man with the machine gun looked him right in the eyes and he thought it was over. He was obviously incredibly shaken, and he hid under a beach chair for an hour until the police got him.”
The Daily Beast previously reported on the alarming rise in gang violence around Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, a famed tourist hotspot. According to one report, the area has seen a 783 percent rise in violent crime since 2019.
A Hyatt spokesperson told The Daily Beast in a statement: “The safety and wellbeing of guests and colleagues is always a top priority… We understand the hotel team immediately engaged local authorities who are on the scene investigating the situation. The hotel team is taking steps in an effort to ensure the safety of guests and colleagues, and further questions may be directed to local authorities.”
Vacaya co-founder Patrick Gunn said in an email that the tour company’s guests had all been accounted for, with “only a few minor scrapes and bruises along the way, with the exception of one guest, who was injured. That individual is currently doing well at the local hospital and is surrounded by friends.”
A media rep at the U.S. Embassy told Reuters that the local U.S. consulate was working to confirm the reports.
Despite the flood of online posts about the shooting, a receptionist at the resort who spoke to a Reuters reporter by phone denied that anything unusual had occurred and claimed there had not been a shooting.