In a brazen daylight attack, the deputy police chief of Zapopan, Mexico, was shot and killed inside a local cafe this morning. Carlos Manuel Flores Amezcua, the third in command of the Zapopan police force, was having coffee at the Ganik Cafe in the La Estancia neighborhood when at least two couples opened fire on him from separate tables.
The brutal killing was captured on the cafe’s security cameras.
Attackers Lay in Wait Before Ambush
Security footage shows Flores Amezcua entering the cafe dressed in athletic gear around 9:57 am. At this time, two male-female pairs were seated at tables on opposite sides of the cafe entrance. As the police commander enters, the women begin rummaging in their bags while the men reach into their pockets.
Moments later, all four assailants produce firearms and unleash a barrage of gunfire on Flores Amezcua, striking him at least 15 times in the back as he collapses to the ground. The attackers continue firing after the policeman goes down, apparently to ensure his death.
The first couple flees immediately, leaving a laptop behind. The second male suspect runs out next while the woman doubles back inside the cafe. In total, 18 bullet casings were recovered from the scene.
Zapopan Police Vow Justice
The Zapopan police chief called Flores Amezcua a dedicated officer with nearly 30 years on the force. “He was a good friend and loyal to his work,” the chief said, adding the attack seemed entirely unprovoked. “We never knew of any threats made against him.”
In a statement, the Zapopan police condemned the “cowardly assault” and pledged to work tirelessly to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Flores Amezcua was the operations director for the Zapopan police force and second-in-command to the police chief. The 50-year-old left behind three children and was recently widowed.
Red SUV May Be Clue to Killers’ Escape
Authorities located an abandoned red Nissan X-Trail SUV near the cafe they believe was used as the getaway vehicle. Inside, investigators found tire-puncturing devices known as caltrops, suggesting preparation for a high-speed chase.
The Jalisco State Prosecutor’s Office works jointly with Zapopan police to analyze security camera footage and other evidence. A helicopter search is underway for the suspects, who remain at large.
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Police Murders on the Rise in Jalisco
The brazen murder has shaken Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara known for its low crime rate. However, violence against police officers has been escalating in the surrounding state of Jalisco.
So far this year, at least 16 officers have been killed in Jalisco. That’s compared to an average of just 8 murders annually in previous years, according to the organization Common Cause.
Experts say the rising attacks indicate the growing power of organized crime groups like the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. “They are seeking to intimidate authorities and remind them who is in charge,” says security analyst Javier Juarez.
But some human rights groups allege security forces are also culpable in abuses and extrajudicial killings, contributing to the cycle of violence.
Police Vow Not To Back Down
At a press conference today, Jalisco’s secretary of public security insisted the attacks will not cow police.
“We will continue dismantling criminal groups responsibly and professionally,” the secretary said. “Losing our comrades only strengthens our resolve to restore peace and order.”
He also announced increased security details for senior police commanders and other measures to protect officers.
Meanwhile, citizens have created a memorial with flowers and candles outside the Zapopan police station in honor of the slain deputy chief. Some say they worry the attack could trigger reprisals.
“Police need to respond firmly but without fuelling more bloodshed,” said Guadalajara resident Rosa Perez. “Violence only breeds more violence.”
Next Steps of the Investigation
- The search continues for the four attackers who gunned down deputy police chief Flores Amezcua in what authorities call a targeted assassination.
- Police are analyzing security footage from the cafe and other businesses near the scene of the crime, as well as following up on the abandoned SUV that may have been the getaway car.
- Zapopan and state authorities have vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice and to step up security for police commanders who may be targeted.
- However, the killing highlights the growing boldness of criminal groups and the need for enhanced police training, anti-corruption measures, and improved community relations.
- Unless concrete steps are taken, experts warn more brazen attacks on police are likely as cartels continue to gain power and influence across Jalisco state.