A young father from San Diego was among 10 victims killed in a shooting during an off-road race near Ensenada over the weekend, Baja California officials confirmed Monday.
Roberto Isaias “Tito” Ayala, 22, was “simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and sadly died running for his own life,” his family wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Mexican authorities have yet to release the names of those killed, but Baja California Attorney General Ricardo Ivan Carpio confirmed Ayala was among the victims. The youngest of the dead was 18.
Ten other people were injured, including a 13-year-old boy, prosecutors said.
The incident happened during an off-road race on Saturday afternoon in the town of San Vicente, south of Ensenada. It started when gunmen in a black Infinity van shot at a group of people on the boardwalk. Shots were then returned.
The prosecutor’s office attributed the violence to a confrontation between two organized criminal groups.
Prosecutors believe the target of the shooting was Alonso Arámbula, alias “El Trébol”, a suspected drug trafficker who was in an all-terrain vehicle marked with that nickname, along with three other people, including a municipal leader representing the San Antonio from the Minas Community in Ensenada. The attorney general confirmed a report by Mexican news outlet Reforma that Arámbula and the local official were among the dead.
The van involved in the incident was found abandoned, riddled with bullet holes. According to the prosecution, the van had been reported stolen in California.
More than 200 casings were found at the scene. The prosecutor’s office said 13 weapons – nine long guns and four handguns – were involved. None of them were located by law enforcement.
No one had been arrested Monday evening.
The incident was captured on videos that quickly circulated online.
Ayala’s GoFundMe page includes a post from his wife, who said he was an innocent bystander.
She said her husband worked as a tractor-trailer driver and was “very loving, smiling, generous”. His family knew him as “The Cheerful Boy”.
“His 4-year-old daughter is still waiting for her ‘superhero dad’ to come home,” the page reads. “And there are no words to tell him he’s not coming back.”
The GoFundMe page, launched on Sunday to raise money to return his body to San Diego and for funeral services, had reached more than $20,000 in donations in one day.
Carpio, the attorney general, told reporters on Monday that state authorities were in direct communication with U.S. authorities.
“Ensenada is a safe place, these types of events end up happening, which we very much regret,” Carpio said, “but we are working to stop these people.”
The race organizers expressed their condolences on social media: “Unfortunately, what happened during the course of the race was not in our hands. From the bottom of our hearts, we are truly sorry for the losses and their families. »
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