Utah couple shot dead 'execution-style' in front of 12-year-old son by gang in Mexico
The family's car failed to stop at a blockade set up by the "community police" following which armed men intercepted the vehicle and ordered them out.
GUERRERO, MEXICO: An Utah couple was gunned down in front of their young son at a roadblock in Mexico, allegedly by a local gang that targets and extorts travelers.
Paul Nielsen, 52, his wife Janeth Vázquez, 43, and their 12-year-old son Kevin were traveling from Acapulco to a beach resort in Zihuatanejo around 3:30 a.m. on July 18 when they were stopped and shot in the municipality of Petatlán, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The family's car reportedly failed to stop at a blockade set up by the "community police" between the towns of Santa Rosa and Juluchuca, following which a group of armed men intercepted the vehicle and ordered all three occupants to get off.
Nielsen and Vázquez were shot in the head and died instantly. Kevin was also shot, but luckily only sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a community hospital in Petatlán for treatment.
He is said to have suffered a nervous breakdown after the attack, but was later discharged and transported to Zihuatanejo, where he provided a statement to the investigators.
Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores insisted that investigating the case was a priority, according to Mexico News Daily, but Vilate Ssempala, Nielsen's younger sister, said she wasn't aware of any investigation that was working towards capturing those responsible for the gruesome "execution-style" murders.
She said their family was working with the US embassy in Mexico to have her brother's body returned. As Vázquez is originally from the state of Puebla, Mexico, it's unclear what will happen to her remains. The United States Department of State said in a statement that they were aware of Nielsen's death but said, "out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for his family. It has passed the goal of $30,000 and raised $45,754 at the time of writing.
Ssempala promoted the page and paid tributes to her brother, writing, "I don’t know what to say except that this good, generous, righteous, kind man was taken in such a senseless way. He was relied on by so many in so many ways. It’s so hard to wrap my head around the fact that he is gone. Please pray for his family and help however much you can."