American Tourist Slain During Robbery Attempt in Medellin, Colombia
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A New Yorker vacationing in the wealthy locale of Medellin, Colombia was shot to death in robbery attempt Friday night, the Associated Press reported.
Identified by local police as John Mariani, 65, he had apparently left his hotel and was a passenger in a taxi when gunmen in a car and on a motorcycle intercepted the vehicle. Mariani resisted when the assailants went for his wallet and belongings and he was shot, police said, according to the AP.
The perpetrators fled, and police said there is a $16,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.
Mariani had come to Medellin from Costa Rica, police said, via the AP, but did not provide any other information on the deceased tourist.
The slaying occurred in the El Poblado neighborhood, one of the Medellin's “wealthiest and safest enclaves,” the AP noted, and added that it is known for its “vibrant” dining, high-rise apartments and hotels.
Medellin, the second-largest city in Colombia, did not always have this stellar reputation, the AP said. When the locale was home to Pablo Escobar’s notorious cocaine cartel in the 1980s, the average murder rate was more than a dozen a day.
But even as the urban center experiences a renaissance — even popping up in The New York Times at No. 11 in its list of 52 places to go in 2015 — the city’s homicide rate is still about five times the U.S. average, the AP revealed.
If caught, Mariani’s killers could face extradition to the U.S. As the AP noted, seven Colombians faced charges in the U.S. last year for the murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. He was killed during a fumbled “express kidnapping” by a ring that targeted individuals hailing cabs in Bogota.
The AP said the U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment about Mariani’s death.
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