Kirk Wilson, Canadian working security, among 5 dead after Mexico club shooting

A Canadian is dead after a shooting and stampede at a nightclub in a Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which left five dead and several injured.

Woman from U.S. dies as a result of the crush of partygoers trying to flee shooting

This photo made available by newspaper Luces del Siglo shows the moments after the shooting in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Luces del Siglo/EPA)

A Canadian was killed after a shooting and stampede at a nightclub in a Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which left five dead and several injured.

Friends have identified Kirk Wilson, who was from the Stoney Creek area of Hamilton, as one of the dead after a shooting which occurred about 2:30 a.m. early Monday at the Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun. 

Former event promoter Neil Forester told CBC News that Wilson was planning to be in Mexico for about two weeks, working security for the BPM Festival, which was touring several spots in the country.

"He was the friendliest — the nicest guy," Forester said. "He always put other people in front of himself."

A company that employed him also expressed its condolences.

Canadian dead after Mexico nightclub shooting

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

"We can confirm that Kirk Wilson was a longtime employee and great friend of INK Entertainment," the firm said in a statement. "Our team is overcome with grief over this terrible tragedy and would like to express our sincerest condolences to his family and friends for their loss."

Wilson was 49, with a wife and two children, Forester said.

Miguel Angel Pech, the attorney general of Quintana Roo state, said a lone gunman apparently entered the nightclub and began to exchange fire with another person inside. Festival security personnel tried to stop the shooting and came under fire.

An American teen died in the stampede of revellers trying to escape the club. The U.S. Embassy confirmed that one of those killed was a U.S. citizen, and the Quintana Roo state prosecutor's office identified her as Alejandra Villanueva Ibarra. 

The Denver Post identified her as an 18-year-old from that city.


Calgary's Aleksandar Samardzija was at the club when the gunfire broke out. He confirmed the frenzied exit, with some trying to get to safety by climbing over a fence leading to the beach.

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

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. 

Italy's Foreign Ministry confirmed one of its citizens died, and the prosecutor's office identified him as Daniel Pessina, a member of the BPM staff.

The Mexican victims were identified as Rafael Penaloza Vega and Geovanni Ruiz Murillo. The prosecutor's office said Ruiz Murillo was wearing a BPM shirt.

Unclear if suspect in custody

Rodolfo Del Angel, director of police in the state of Quintana Roo, told the Milenio TV station the shooting was the result of "a disagreement between people inside" the nightclub and said security guards had come under fire when they tried to contain the dispute.

Pech says the shooting caused people to rush for the exits at the beach-side club. He says 15 people were injured, one seriously. He said eight of the injured have been released from hospital.

A view shows the inside of the Blue Parrot nightclub after a gunman opened fire early Monday outside the venue, killing several people and injuring others during a BPM electronic music festival, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Victor Ruiz Garcia/Reuters)

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement late Monday that Wilson was the only Canadian killed, in contrast to early Mexico reports that two Canadians were dead.

Two Canadians were injured, Global Affairs said, though the type and extent of their injuries is not yet clear.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter offered his condolences to the family of Wilson, adding he is "monitoring the situation in Mexico."

Pech said the gunman himself apparently escaped, though three people had been detained nearby. It was not known if they had been involved in the shooting.

"We know of another shooting incident that occurred near the nightclub, but we are investigating whether that is related" to the deadly shooting, Pech said.

Witnesses tell of chaotic scene

William Om, 23, of Montreal was on vacation and inside the nightclub with friends when they heard what he initially thought were fireworks, or sounds coming from dance music.

"I didn't realize it was gunshots until my friend pulled me down. They said, 'Hey, get on the floor.'" he told CBC's Alison Northcott.

"It's kind of crazy," Om said. "The gunshots happened at the entrance. They were being fired everywhere randomly. People were lying on the ground, crying, bleeding. It was like a movie. No one anywhere in the world would expect to live through something like this."

Jeffrey Castelein, 33, a fork lift operator from Belgium, said he heard 15 to 20 shots before he and his friends leapt the fence. "At first we didn't realize, and then everybody fell down and you had to hide a little bit. And then we went out the back by the sea."

The Canadian government updated the crime section of its online travel advisories for Mexico on Monday and mentioned the shooting.

It said that while more than 1.9 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year, the "vast majority of them without incident," travellers should be aware that "crime rates in Mexico are high."

Three people were detained near the club, but it's unclear whether they were involved in the shooting.

The Blue Parrot nightclub where the shooting took place early Monday was hosting an event that was part of the BPM electronic music festival. (BPM Festival)

Video posted on social media websites showed patrons ducking under tables outside the nightclub as others ran past them.

The BPM Festival posted a statement saying the attack involved "a lone shooter."

"We are overcome with grief over this senseless act of violence and we are co-operating fully with local law enforcement and government officials as they continue their investigation," BPM said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Festival organizers say the event draws DJs and music producers from around the world to multiple venues in Mexico's Mayan Riviera, including the beach town Playa del Carmen, about 70 kilometres south of Cancun. 

With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press