'We had to literally jump over a body going out': Calgary witness to Mexico nightclub shooting

A Calgarian says he saw a man shot down right in front of him amid the chaos of a Mexican nightclub shooting and subsequent stampede that left five dead and more than a dozen injured.

Aleksandar Samardzija says he could hear gunshots and smell gunpowder at Playa del Carmen shooting

Aleksandar Samardzija says he was a little more than two metres away from the shooter at a Mexican nightclub. (Mike Symington/CBC)

A Calgarian says he saw a man shot down right in front of him amid the chaos of a Mexican nightclub shooting and subsequent stampede that left five dead and more than a dozen injured.

The dance floor of the Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun, was packed with people when the shooting broke out early Monday morning, says Aleksandar Samardzija.

He said he was a little more than two metres away from the shooter, although he had no clear view.

"We saw one bigger gentleman in front of us, he was shot several times. They turned him over on his side and he was just gushing blood," he told CBC News.  

Samardzija said he's not sure if the gunman ever entered the club, speculating the shots were fired from the street into the entrance right next to him and his friends.

"I don't think he came in. If he had come in, I think we could have been shot," he said. 

'They were stepping on each other'

Samardzija said some people were trying to climb over a fence to the beach to safety.

"They were stepping on each other and other people were trying to catch them on the other side," he said. 

Local residents gather to place candles and banners calling for peace and unity outside the Blue Parrot club where several people were killed in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

Samardzija said he and his friends stayed low and eventually decided to make a break for it, hiding behind some chairs as they made their way to the street. 

​"We had to literally jump over a body going out," he said. 

In the end, five people ended up dead, including Kirk Wilson, a southern Ontario man working security detail for the entertainment event company that was putting on the club event.

At least one person, a U.S. woman, was trampled to death in the chaos of partygoers looking to flee the gunfire.

About 15 people were injured, Mexican authorities said.

Will return to Mexico

Even after his vacation took a violent turn, Samardzija says he'd go back to Mexico.

"It's not going to stop me from travelling. I think it was isolated. It was definitely targeted."

The Canadian government has mentioned the shooting in its online travel advisories for Mexico and said travellers should be aware that crime rates in the country are high.

But it also notes that more than 1.9 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year — the "vast majority of them without incident." 

With files from Allison Dempster