La Balacera or Shootout


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Dateline: Corner of Tonalá and Nayarit, a couple of blocks from my house

Thursday afternoon a worrisome message came across our street’s group WhatsApp account. At 3:30 PM in broad, friggin’, daylight there was a shootout a couple of blocks away from my house, and a block away from an elementary school. Supposedly a group of 3 motorcyclists shot at a car and then either stole it and/or kidnapped the occupant. According to the account, two cops in a car were nearby, along with 2 officers on foot, who apparently did nothing.

I happened to be in the house at the time, talking with my architect and I heard nothing, which surprised me, given the proximity. We had been sitting in a bedroom nearest to the street with the window open. So when I heard the news, I scanned Google News for “balacera, Roma Sur.” Nothing. Then I checked Twitter. Again nothing. I reported this back to the list and asked if anyone had personally seen this. No one had.

I grew skeptical, but worried at the same time. Had Mexico City become so blasé about crime that such an event went unnoticed, unreported, and untweeted? Like bank robberies in the USA, so common that they aren’t newsworthy? My neighbors said they had verified it in a chat with the police, but I was still doubtful. This morning, I re-ran my news and Twitter searches and still came up with nothing.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Friday afternoon I went to the location of the crime, and started talking to shop owners. Had they heard it? Seen anything? It turns out that, yes, they had heard and seen some of it. The owner of a bicycle shop had seen the car fleeing in reverse, pursued by motorcycles. He was also clear about how many gunshots: three. Then I asked if the police had been by to interview them. I was disappointed, but not surprised to find that no, the police hadn’t done any investigations.

I reported all of this back to my neighborhood WhatsApp list.

Dear Neighbors, I just personally investigated yesterday’s shootout. I went by Calle Tonalá where it took place and asked four businesses. All four heard the gunshots. The guys in the bicycle repair shop told me there were three gunshots and a car backing up pursued by a motorbike. They escaped, possibly having also kidnapped the driver. So far the police haven’t investigated anything. As we all know, there are five serious crimes here: possession of a firearm; discharging it in the city; robbery; assault; and possible kidnapping.

As a foreigner I could be deported from the country for getting involved in politics. As such, I’m very reluctant to get any more involved than reporting what I’ve found to all of you on the list. But I’d like to support any one of us who is willing to go to the police and insist that they make a proper investigation.

If we tolerate crime, we’re going to get more.

Thanks and greetings, and an apology for being so skeptical at first.

This is the second major crime that’s happened in the last six months near my house. In October, there was a mass holdup at the Cine Tonalá, an arts cinema a few blocks away. Armed bandits pulled up on a motorcycle one evening around six, locked everyone into the theater, and then robbed the bunch of them at gunpoint. As far as I know, no suspects have been detained.

Tree-lined and Crime-Infested

So things here are a little too exciting. While I’m not terribly worried personally, I can’t say that I’m unconcerned either. And if the global recession that many are predicting hits, well it ain’t gonna get any better.  Hopefully we can get the police more interested, but I’m not holding my breath.