The lone eyewitness to the murder of a Canadian in May was himself shot dead shortly after, it was revealed this week.
The family of Victor Masson, a Canadian citizen who was killed in Puerto Escondido on May 15, have learned that the witness was himself murdered just one week after speaking with local authorities.
Masson, 27, had been visiting Oaxaca with his Mexican girlfriend, arriving just a day before the attack.
The investigation has revealed that Masson met four people — two men and two women — at a local establishment, with whom he had an altercation over the bill.
Before he died, the Quebec tourist sent a voice message to his girlfriend, suggesting that he was in danger. Masson later called 911, saying he had been robbed.
It was after that altercation that the witness seemingly found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In his official statement, Sergio Ruiz Luengas said Masson was killed at around 1:45 a.m. on May 15, on Calle Emiliano Zapata in Colonia Arroyo Seco.
Ruiz told investigators that he was walking down the street when Masson was killed in front of his eyes. The attacker “pulled out a pistol and fired twice at the driver of the gray car,” he stated.
The witness was on his way to a friend’s house when a motorcycle carrying a man and two women passed him and parked near an apartment. He said he recognized Mario Omara Sanginez López, the main suspect in the case, as he had known him from around the area for about a year.
Ruiz said a gray car then arrived on the scene and that its driver, Masson, hit the motorcycle, still carrying a woman, knocking it down. There was a quarrel between the four people, he continued, and Sanginez allegedly threw a rock at the Canadian’s car before drawing his gun and fatally shooting him.
Before fleeing the scene with Masson’s body, Ruiz recounted how Sanginez approached him at gunpoint and threatened to “settle the score” if he told anyone what happened. By the time he met with police on May 22, he said he feared for his life.
“Mario Omar threatened me, saying he’d kill me if I talked. So I’m afraid he’ll make good on his threats,” he told investigators.
The witness was killed days later in circumstances that local authorities reportedly refuse to disclose due to the ongoing investigation.
The state prosecutor’s office also refused to specify whether there is a link between the two murders, or whether the most recent was aimed at silencing the witness, stating that his murder does not jeopardize the case.
“The death of the citizen, a witness to the events that led to the opening of the criminal trial, in no way affects the process since . . . his statement can be entered into evidence at a time deemed appropriate,” the office said in a statement.
Masson’s family only learned of the witness’s death two months after it happened.
“It was a big shock. It’s like being in a movie — a very bad movie,” said Édouard
Masson, the victim’s brother.
“I would never have wanted this to happen to this man, who was immensely courageous. He had seen everything. He decided to go to the police and do the right thing. So for him to be murdered, I think it’s an injustice.”
An arrest warrant was issued for Sanginez, 24, in late May, leading to his apprehension on May 26, when he made his first appearance for Masson’s murder. He was formally charged on June 1.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for September 18.
With reports by CBC