March 31, 2018 / 2:28 AM / 6 months ago

Two die in Acapulco shootout amid panicked Easter procession

ACAPULCO (Reuters) - Dozens of Roman Catholic devotees dressed as ancient Romans and biblical figures fled a Good Friday procession in panic on Friday in the Mexican resort town of Acapulco after gunfire rang out over a nearby car robbery.

Soldiers patrol after a shooting near a Via Crucis representation in Acapulco, Mexico March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Javier Verdin

One of the robbers died from a heart attack during a shootout with police while an accomplice escaped, said the government of Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most violent states.

Minutes after the confrontation, another man in a home nearby was killed in what was reported to police as a subsequent slew of gunfire. No people in the procession were reported injured.

Forensic workers carry the body of a man killed during a shooting near a Via Crucis representation in Acapulco, Mexico March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Javier Verdin

Murder rates in Acapulco and the popular Los Cabos resort further north have soared in recent years as Mexico fights entrenched drug crime.

Mexico registered a record number of murders last year, staining the reputation of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) whose presidential candidate, Jose Antonio Meade, trails third in polls to win the July 1 election.

Campaigns officially kicked off on Friday, with the second- and fourth-place contenders holding midnight rallies to deliver vows to curb corruption and violence, two of Mexico’s most critical and intertwined issues that are shaping the race. [nL1N1RC0L4]

Meade and leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who ranks first in polls, will launch their campaigns on Sunday.

Slideshow (4 Images)

In Acapulco on Friday, a video verified by Reuters shows onlookers who had just concluded the re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion darting in terror down a major street, yelling, “Stay calm, stay calm!”

One man crouched behind a large wooden crucifix propped against a parked car, while a group of men in flowing red capes and Romanesque armour streamed past. Women grabbed hands with children, pushing them through the confused mob.

A shootout also interrupted a Good Friday procession in the violent northern city of Reynosa and left one dead, local media reported.

According to a video aired on television, several dozen religious marchers darted to the sidewalk amid shouts of “Get to the ground!” after the pop-pop of gunfire cut into choral singing.

A Jesus figure wearing white robes tinged with fake blood kneeled behind a giant crucifix as more gunfire rang out, dropping it when a companion yelled for him to “leave the cross!” and take cover off the street.

Writing and additional reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Kim Coghill

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