A Utah couple visiting Mexico was gunned down in front of their 12-year-old son — execution-style — after they failed to stop at a roadblock, reports say.
Paul Nielsen, 52, and Janeth Vázquez, 43, were on their way to a beach resort last week when they allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint in Petatlan, within the state of Guerrero.
According to local reports, the couple was with their son, Kevin, and had been ordered to stop by a group of armed men.
They were allegedly pulled over on Thursday around 3:30 a.m. and asked to exit their vehicle, upon which they were all shot — including Kevin, the reports say.
The boy survived, but suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be treated at a local hospital. His parents were both shot in the head.
Nielsen’s family confirmed the incident with media outlets in Utah, including KUTV and The Salt Lake Tribune. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his body to be brought back to Utah. His wife was originally from Puebla, Mexico, and it’s unclear what will happen with her remains.
Outlets in Mexico say local authorities are investigating the early morning execution, which has been condemned by Guerrero Gov. Hector Astudillo Flores as reprehensible.
Vilate Ssempala, Nielsen’s younger sister, told the Tribune that he and his wife had encountered a roadblock on the morning of their deaths, which appeared to have been set up by a local gang to extort travelers.
The couple was “intercepted” by the heavily armed group and “stripped” of their car, according to the Mexican outlet Reforma, before eventually being shot.
Nielsen’s family says it’s working with the US Embassy in Mexico to have his body returned.
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