'The greatest loss': Family devastated after Hamilton man shot in Mexico

Kirk Wilson's family is picking up the pieces after the Hamilton father was shot and killed while working security at a music festival in Mexico on Monday.

Investigators are still probing just how Kirk Wilson died

Friends say Kirk Wilson was a veteran of the entertainment industry, having worked security for Toronto nightclubs like The Guvernment and Cube, as well as working personal security for celebrities and for events like the NBA all-star game. He was killed in a shooting at a club in Mexico on Monday. (Neil Forester)

Kirk Wilson's family didn't love the trips he was taking to Mexico. Surging crime rates and stories about murders connected to drug cartels worried them.

But the 49-year-old Hamilton man loved travelling, and his job working in event security, his mother says — so there was no talking him out of it.

On Monday, Wilson was killed after someone walked into the BPM electronic music festival in Mexico and opened fire, killing five people and injuring several others. The father of two young children was working as a security supervisor at the Blue Parrot nightclub at the time.

"I didn't like Mexico. I didn't like it at all because of what was going on with crime," Wilson's mother Hazel Wilson told CBC News. She would tell him not to go, and he would respond, "What will be, will be."

Mother of Kirk Wilson speaks

CBC News Toronto

4 years ago
Hazel Wilson, mother of Mexico shooting victim Kirk Wilson, talks to CBC about the loss of her son and how she didn't like Mexico. 1:46

"This is the greatest loss for me, and our life will never be the same again," his mother said. "I don't know how I'm going to spend my life without him."

"We'll keep him inside our hearts, and remember him the way we knew him."

Authorities are still investigating what set off the deadly shooting — but residents say it came amid a growing and increasingly open drug scene in a resort town that has long been spared the violence of Mexico's cartel wars. Officials say the shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. at the nightclub, one of the festival's venues in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun.

Wilson's sister Sheryl Wilson says that her family hasn't really processed what happened to her brother. "Everyone is just devastated," she said.

Fundraising campaign for the family raises over $65 K

One thing that has helped, she says, is the outpouring of support the family has seen since news spread of Wilson's death.

Over $65,000 has been raised in just 24 hours for the family, thanks to an online crowd funding initiative.

Wilson's best friend Chris McGill told CBC News that Wilson's wife Jennifer and their two children are doing the best they can, considering the tragedy.

"She's just really trying to focus on her kids," McGill 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)

"Kids are resilient. Of course they're upset, and of course they're devastated. But they're doing as well as you could expect any kids to do."

Wilson was a veteran of the security industry in Toronto, and dozens of people have posted messages of mourning on the crowd funding campaign's page.

"He had a contagious smile and a warm heart," wrote Lorraine Santangelo. "I worked with Kirk for a short period but he left an imprint on my life. A true gentleman.

"Rest in peace gentle giant."

Not terrorism, Attorney General says

Investigators were trying to determine the motive of the shooting, but Quintana Roo state Attorney General Miguel Angel Pech said the gunfire broke out when security tried to stop a man from entering the club with a gun. He ruled out any terrorist intent. The gunman apparently fled.

Charles Lewis was a friend of Wilson's and was in the club when the shooting started. At the outset, he thought the pops he heard might be fireworks.

"But once I started seeing people falling on the floor and running, I was like, 'Oh, this is real,'" Aguero told CBC Toronto.

"One guy he got shot in the back and he fell over [and] then I was just running, and there was just people trampling all over each other."

Canadian dead after Mexico nightclub shooting

The National

4 years ago
A Canadian is among the dead after a shooting and stampede at a nightclub in Playa del Carmen 2:12

After the shots stopped, Lewis said he went to look for Wilson, who had been "part of this whole entire Toronto entourage" that started the festival a decade ago. 

He found Wilson in an alley outside the club and left him to find a paramedic while several other friends tried to revive him. 

There were 14 other people injured in the shooting and Lewis described a scene of chaos. When he found a paramedic, they were with a woman who had been shot in the hip.

"So they just got to him a little bit late," Lewis said of his friend.

While initial reports said that two Canadians died in the chaos, Global Affairs Canada clarified and said Wilson was the only Canadian to be killed.

"Firstly, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends Mr. Kirk J. Wilson, who was killed in the shooting in Playa del Carmen and with all of the victims of this tragic event," said spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet. "The second fatality that was previously reported in the media as being a Canadian has been identified as not a Canadian citizen."

Two other Canadians, she said, were injured.

"Consular officials in Playa Del Carmen and Mexico City are in ongoing contact with local authorities as they continue to address this tragic incident, and are providing consular assistance to Canadian citizens affected by the incident, including two who have been injured."

With files from The Associated Press