Police Seek Motive in Mexican Attack That Killed 17 (Published 2010) – New York Times

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MEXICO CITY — The gunmen pulled up to the party hall, blocked the exits and started shooting at the crowd. The man for whom the party was being thrown was shot dead. So was his brother. Four musicians from the band were killed.
The attack on the party in the northern city of Torreón that killed 17 young people early Sunday morning seemed straight out of Mexico’s organized crime playbook: members of one drug gang killing off their rivals.
But on Monday, investigators said that they had yet to link anybody at the party with drug gangs and that they were still trying to determine a motive for the attack.
“Until now, the way this was carried out definitely points to it being committed by organized crime,” the chief prosecutor for the state of Coahuila, Jesús Torres Charles, said in a radio interview. “However, we have yet to find any element that links either the organizers or the partygoers with organized crime.”
The mass slaying was the third this year in Torreón, an industrial city in the south of the state of Coahuila, which borders Texas. In January and again in May, gunmen attacked bars in the city. Altogether, 18 people were killed in those shootings, some of them students who had no evident links to organized crime.
Mr. Torres said that state investigators believed those killings were carried out by drug gangs against the bars, which were owned by rivals. The victims, it seems, may simply have been caught in the cross-fire.
Despite the growing violence in Torreón, there are no federal police officers in the city and the municipal police force is operating at half-strength after a labor dispute. Mr. Torres said that the state government had been requesting federal police forces since March.
The January attack in Torreón got little national attention because it occurred the same day as another massacre in the border city of Ciudad Juárez. Gunmen stormed a party in a working-class neighborhood and opened fire. At the end, 15 people were dead, most of them of teenagers from the neighborhood.
The event caused outrage when it became clear that most of the teenagers were students who were celebrating close to home to avoid the city’s dangers.
The party in Torreón this weekend was for Héctor José Mota Méndez, 35. Among the dead were five women, the state prosecutor’s office said. The authorities had initially said that 18 people were killed, but they later corrected the number to 17.
Several people told the police that that they survived by playing dead, including one member of the band. On the band’s Facebook page, a fan, Eugenio González, wrote: “I miss my safe and quiet Torreón where you could have fun without the fear that you wouldn’t come home.”