A B.C. man who was shot in the leg in Mazatlan, Mexico, said his immediate instinct was to protect his wife after gunfire broke out at a market they were visiting.

"It was boom, boom, boom, boom, a heavy machine-gun I heard," said Mike DiLorenzo of Penticton.

"My first concern was to push my wife down immediately. I pushed her. I said, 'down.' I didn't have time to talk."

DiLorenzo, 69, underwent surgery for the gunshot wound suffered Sunday and is recovering in hospital.

A metal plate was inserted in his leg, which was shattered above the knee.

His wife, Serafina, was not injured in the attack.

DiLorenzo said he soon realized he'd been hit.

bc-110119-mike-dilorenzo

Mike DiLorenzo, of Penticton, B.C., says when he heard gunfire in a Mazatlan street Tuesday, he reacted immediately to protect his wife. ((CBC))

"When I fell on top of my wife, I realized I had a terrible pain, an incredible pain, and I realized something was wrong with me. I had been shot."

The DiLorenzos have been married for 40 years.

Speaking from Coquitlam, B.C., daughter Kathy DiLorenzo said her parents were on their annual Mexican vacation when the shooting erupted.

"My dad said he was about 50 feet away from the market, four blocks away from the hotel that they were at, when he heard the gunfire," she told CBC News.

A group of masked men fired as many as 50 shots from automatic weapons. Their target is believed to have been a 25-year-old Mexican man who was passing on a motorcycle. The man, who was thought to be involved in the drug trade, died from gunshot wounds. 

Mexico has been plagued by gang violence, prompting the Canadian government to issue a travel warning for the country.

Some Canadian travel agents are also cautioning tourists to avoid some western areas of Mexico, including Mazatlan, or to visit another country for a sun vacation.