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Mexico kidnapping: Sister grieves after 2 Americans killed


Preparing for his first trip out of the country, Zindel Brown, 28, of Lake City, South Carolina, had more than a few nerves. Perhaps it was a premonition of a trip to Mexico with him and some friends.

“He said. “Something just doesn’t feel right,” her older sister, Zalandria Brown, told The Associated Press by phone. “(It was) the last thing we talked about.

Going into protection mode for a man so close to her that she calls him her “hip bone,” Brown urged her brother not to go on a trip planned earlier this month. But being someone known for helping others, Brown wasn’t surprised that her sibling shrugged off that feeling and offered to drive with a group of her childhood friends to Mexico, where one was due to have cosmetic surgery and the other was planning to celebrate her 34th birthday. .

The inside of the white rental van would be the last place Brown would see his baby brother alive. During the nearly 22-hour drive from South Carolina to Brownsville, Texas, Brown saw a video posted online of Zindel smiling for the camera.

But in Mexico, the group came under attack. Around noon, the car crashed into the group’s van. According to Mexican police reports, several men wearing tactical vests and assault rifles arrived in another vehicle and surrounded them.

Two members of the group, Zindell Brown and Shade Woodard, were shot and killed. Eric Williams was shot in the leg and he and his girlfriend, Latavia McGee, were loaded into a pickup truck, according to a video posted on social media. The violence was blamed on the Gulf Cartel, a drug gang linked to murders and kidnappings in Matamoros, a city of half a million people that has long been a stronghold of the powerful cartel. The group allegedly apologized for the killings in a letter obtained by The Associated Press from Mexican law enforcement.

Even as she watched the footage of the ambush that quickly went viral, Zalandria Brown said she began to get a sick feeling that her brother was gone.

“It was the other part of my soul,” he said.

She called her brother the male version of herself. His hunting partner and “awesome uncle” who his two (teenage) sons looked after is gone.

In the days leading up to the trip, Zindel spent time at home playing video games; Zindel acquired woodworking skills from his father, who wanted to train him in the family trade.

Although he lives in Florence, South Carolina, Brown said he, his brother, Woodard and McGee all grew up in modest Lake City. By midweek, the town of fewer than 6,000 people seemed consumed by the somber loss.

At the local library on Main Street, patrons chatted with each other about condolences, while a few blocks away at the police station, a stranger pressed a bouquet of purple flowers into Shayid’s father’s arms.

This month would have been Shade Woodard’s 34th birthday, according to his father, James Woodard. James Woodard says Shade’s cousin, Latavia McGee, surprised him with the trip as a birthday excursion. Shade and Zindel were close. Brown said he considers him a brother, too.

On the night of March 5, Brown would receive a phone call that would confirm his worst fears. A family friend called to say the doctor’s office they were going to in Mexico called to say McGee was late and they believed she had been kidnapped. McGee says every day since then, with her two surviving siblings and parents, seems like a “nightmare.” Neither family has said they accept the cartel’s apology for the forced abductions. “It’s just crazy to see your own child taken away from you in such a brutal way,” Woodard said. “He didn’t deserve it because he was loved. He had a big heart.”

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