Several Americans and Canadians at the LGBT+ fifth anniversary event in Cancun at the weekend say they were not able to leave the beach and saw so many men dressed in black with long guns that they started hiding. The reason for the mass stay was the shooting of two attackers on the beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Mexico’s interior minister said six attackers had been caught and four people arrested.
If you are a strong, brave and honest transwoman, a friend, or a guest at… Posted by Greg Long on Sunday, February 25, 2018
Greg Long, a Canadian living in Orlando, who attended the gathering along with several of his gay colleagues, told the Orlando Sentinel, that there were at least nine people from the United States as well as Canada and Europe, on the beach when the shooting began. It happened sometime after midnight and lasted less than 30 minutes, Long said. He and his colleagues first heard the shots, but then realized they were celebratory. But at first they didn’t know what was happening and focused on staying near their drinks, especially the good coffee they couldn’t have due to the popular festivals shut down. The men hung out at the event on the beach for the majority of the night.
The group eventually began to leave, but when they entered the city and the public bus that took them back, it was closed for security reasons. Suddenly, Long and his colleagues saw other men dressed in black walking up to the bus. One man, he said, told them “You all go back to your countries,” and then four or five men in black “in giant, construction-type hats” came down from the hills and started shooting.
Long went to the doctors and then to a friend’s home on the coast, where he stayed and cooked and gave everything he had to police to help them put the case together.
“I didn’t feel safe by myself and I really didn’t want to go out. I was very scared,” he said.
“The first one I heard was yelling at the top of his lungs. He’s like screaming ‘My father, my father. He shot and killed us.’ He was kneeling on the ground holding his mother.”
As Long was telling this story to another friend who spoke little Spanish, another man interrupted and started yelling “hello,” and said it was the wife of one of the dead women that he was blaming. Long said he couldn’t hear any more because he started weeping.
Dr. Eric Fazio, an Orlando-based psychologist, had gone to the beach to watch the beach volleyball tournament, said to a friend and planned to return to his own house to call his wife. He was never allowed to go back on the bus, and went to a friend’s house and cooked until they found the secret phone they could use. A friend who took the phone recorded the sound of the shooting and sent it to him.
His friend, who is originally from Mexico, called his wife to tell her what happened. Fazio’s wife then called him. They were glad to hear that Fazio is in good shape.
On Saturday evening, when a friend was checking the news on the beach at 3 a.m., there was a story from the NBC News Latino website of several men sitting around a table in their hotel wearing black and appearing to be looking for their fathers or husbands. A woman from the festival confirmed that they had indeed been at the beach party.
Dr. Patrick Heller, of North Carolina, who is also living in Orlando, sent a post about the massacre to his friends on the Facebook group that he and his roommate started called Outrageous Things.
“No gay man should ever feel unsafe in their house, in their living room, in their home,” Heller said. “No one should ever feel like they have to be on the lookout.”
Heller is currently in the middle of auditioning for the Musical Theatre Academy. All events, he said, are going to be difficult because people won’t understand how it feels to be on edge.