CANCUN, Mexico (ABC4) – A Utah man spoke to ABC News after surviving a gang-related shootout while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico.
The victim, Tanner VanValkenburg, was hospitalized and later released after sustaining gunshot wounds. The harrowing ordeal left two dead and four Americans hospitalized on November 5. Local authorities say the shootout was gang-related.
VanValkenburg tells ABC News he was enjoying a meal with friends at the resort when he heard gunshots ring out. Suddenly, they found themselves caught in the crosshairs of gunfire.
“We thought they were fireworks and then more started going off and everyone started to panic and run,” says VanValkenburg. “That’s when I took off and all of us jumped into the pool.”
As VanValkenburg headed out of the water, that’s when he realized he had been shot.
“I honestly thought I was going to die because I thought the gunmen were going to basically come and just kill everyone,” VanValkenburg recalls. “This is it. I’m probably not gonna make it.”
Luckily, VanValkenburg was transferred to a local hospital and was successfully released. He is now safely back home recovering. The shooting occurred at an upscale beachfront resort area near the Azul Beach Resort and the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun
“About 15 people arrived on the beach to assassinate two men who had showed up, saying they were the new dealers in the area,” the head prosecutor of Quintana Roo state, Oscar Montes de Oca, told AP News. “There was a clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach” near the hotels, with several cartels are fighting for the area’s valuable drug trade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.