At least five people, including four foreigners, have been killed and 15 wounded when a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen resort during the BPM electronic music festival.
Quintana Roo State Attorney General Miguel Angel Pech told a press conference that two Canadians, an Italian and a Colombian were killed.
A woman died in the stampede to exit the club.
A group of Australians at the festival escaped uninjured. A Perth man described how he and his friends had to step over victims to escape the nightclub uninjured.
Pech said the incident began when a person entered the Blue Parrot nightclub armed in the early hours of Monday morning, during the closing of the festival.
Another person tried to stop the person, sparking a gunfight that drew in security staff.
Pech added that 15 people were injured, of whom 10 are still in hospital.
The state government said in a statement that one person was in grave condition.
Four people were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the incident.
The shooting represents a blow to Mexico’s tourism industry, which has been one of the few bright spots in the economy thanks to a weak peso exchange rate.
The BPM organisers said three members of their security team were killed in the shooting, which it said was perpetrated by a lone shooter.
Rodolfo Del Angel, director of police in the state of Quintana Roo, said the early morning shooting was the result of “a disagreement between people inside” the nightclub and that security guards came under fire when they tried to contain the dispute.
“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,” BPM said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT: It is with great sadness to share that police have confirmed reports of a lone shooter outside the…
Videos shot at the scene shown on television and social media appear to show dancers ducking for cover and out on the streets running to safety.
Perth man describes horror scene
Perth man Tim Mullen told ABC News he was inside the Blue Parrot nightclub when the shooting happened.
“About four or five hours into the party we heard a couple of ‘pops’ going off, and we at first thought it was fire crackers and we looked across the dance floor to establish whether or not anything was going off that we needed to see and when we didn’t see any fireworks we started thinking the worst,” he said.
5 killed after gunfire erupts at a festival in the popular resort city of Playa del Carmen, Mexico https://t.co/h3LzeHvhxb
— CNN (@CNN) January 16, 2017
“When we heard the pops were getting closer to us, we did our best to hit the deck as fast as we could, pull everybody down that was around us.
“[There was] lots of screaming and lots of people were running around but we stayed put and as soon as we saw 30 or 40 people get out safely through the main exit, we decided to do a runner.”
'Stay in your hotel' Glasgow DJ Jackmaster warns clubbers after gunman opens fire on closing night of BPM Festivalhttps://t.co/jdqRSSG0NZ
— Garry (@ExMiliMed1) January 16, 2017
Mr Mullen said there were more than 2,000 people in the club at the time and many of them were Australians.
“We had to go over a few of the victims just to get through the melee, there were people all exiting at once,” he said.
“One of the guys that was at the party with us administered first aid.
“It’s been such an amazingly wonderful festival … everybody is sad about the fact that the week has been blackened by such a violent act.”
The BPM festival, which was entering its 10th year, has grown to be one of the most important electronic music events in the world, with top DJs flying in every January to play the clubs of Playa del Carmen along Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Quintana Roo and the surrounding Yucatan peninsula has traditionally been less violent than other parts of Mexico, with relatively low murder rates.
However, with many foreign tourists and a vibrant night life scene, there has long been an important local drug market in and around Playa Del Carmen.