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Authorities: 2 Americans killed in Mexico

Authorities: 2 Americans killed in Mexico

April 6th, 2011 in News

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) - Two men killed by a gunman who opened fire while they waited in line to reach a Tijuana border crossing were U.S. citizens, a diplomat said Tuesday, and their San Diego employer described them as diligent workers who had moved to the Mexican border city so they could afford to live on the beach.

U.S. Consulate spokesman Joseph L. Crook said the men were waiting in line in their vehicle early Monday almost half a mile from the San Ysidro crossing, one of the world's busiest ports of entry.

"Our condolences go out to their families at this difficult time," the consulate said in a statement. "We are working closely with the Mexican authorities to ascertain all of the facts."

He did not release their names, saying officials were still trying to contact their families.

More than 34,000 people, including an increasing number of U.S. citizens, have been killed in Mexico's drug war but shootings of people waiting in line to cross into the United States are extremely rare.

Prosecutors in Baja California state quoted witnesses as saying a gunman approached the line and fired into the men's pickup truck, hitting the victims in the head, arms and body. Both victims were dead by the time authorities arrived.

Police found 9-mm shell casings at the scene, authorities said. That ammunition is used in weapons favored by drug cartel gunmen in Mexico.

Matt Pelot of San Diego-based West Coast Beverage Maintenance, confirmed the victims were his employees: Kevin Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido, 25.

He said Romero's sister called him Monday morning to tell him they had been killed.

The men, who were good friends and had worked for Pelot for more than a year, were crossing around 2:40 a.m. as they usually did to beat the long lines that form later in the morning when thousands cross to go to work or school on the U.S. side, Pelot said. They had moved to Tijuana because of the lower cost of living.

Romero's parents live near the border on the U.S. side and the men would go there to sleep before heading in to work. The two maintained draft beer systems at restaurants and bars in the San Diego area and were always eager to work overtime for the small company, which has 13 employees, Pelot said.