The former governor of the restive western state of Jalisco in Mexico was shot dead at a restaurant in the Pacific coast resort of Puerto Vallarta.
Prosecutor Gerardo Octavio Solís said that Aristotelis Sandoval was killed in an attack that targeted him only at around 1:40 am.
Jalisco State is the home of the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel, and the attack bore the hallmarks of a gang killing.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed his condolences and said that the killing would be under investigation “to find out the cause and motive” of the attack.
But Lopez Obrador said the investigation was the responsibility of prosecutors. Typically, federal prosecutors are responsible for high-profile crimes potentially involving a drug cartel.
The killer waited until Sandoval got up from a table he was sharing with three other people, before shooting him multiple times in the back. Solis said that although one gunman shot Sandoval, he was probably accompanied by as many as seven to nine partners who were waiting outside.
Sandoval was a member of the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled the country from 2013 to 2018.
The current governor, Enrique Alvaro, described the attack as a “direct attack”, indicating that the killer knew who he was targeting and was only interested in killing the former ruler.
“What we just saw was not just a murder, it was a challenge directed against the government of Mexico,” lvaro said. “We will not be defeated.”
Attacks on former state governors are unknown in Mexico; In 2010, Silverio Cavazos – the former governor of the neighboring state of Colima – was killed by a bullet outside his home.
State officials said Sandoval had 15 police bodyguards, as well as bulletproof vehicles. Two bodyguards were present, but they were outside the restaurant when the attack happened.
One of his bodyguards outside was wounded in what appeared to be an exchange of fire after the attack, when people tried to take Sandoval to the hospital where he died.
Solis said restaurant personnel cleaned up the crime scene and destroyed potential evidence.