Police in Belize say a Virginia cardiologist who was shot and killed alongside a tour guide in the Central American country was a “victim of circumstance.”
According to a police report posted in the local San Pedro Sun, on June 23 police found the bodies of Boca Del Rio tour guide Mario Nestle Jr Graniel, 53, and Virginia cardiologist Dr. Gary Swank, also 53, in the San Pedro town lagoon.
Police said both Graniel and Swank were found dead with multiple gunshot wounds. Swank’s body was found floating facedown 30 feet away from Graniel’s.
According to police, the two went fly fishing on Sunday on the San Pedro lagoon. At around 10 a.m. a dark-colored skiff passed by and opened fire, killing both men.
On Monday, Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams told local News 5 that investigations revealed a possible motive for the double homicide might have stemmed from Graniel having a “misunderstanding” with a notorious gang figure in San Pedro.
Williams told reporters that Graniel’s home was shot at last Friday and police detained the suspected shooter, but Graniel never showed up to give a report. Williams said police did everything they could to protect Graniel, but “we can’t follow the man everywhere he goes.”
“We don’t have a boat to follow him and we can’t put police on every tour guide boat,” Williams said. “We did what we could have done in terms of detaining those who we believe were responsible and maintaining presence in the area where he lived. I don’t see what else we could have done.”
When asked if Swank was a victim of circumstance Williams said: “That is surely the case.”
According to police, Swank arrived in Belize on Saturday with his wife and three children.
Swank was a cardiologist at the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia.
In a statement, the Carilion Clinic called Swank a “well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear.”