A day relaxing at a beach resort in Cancun, Mexico, turned into “complete chaos” for a group of tourists on Thursday when a shootout between a pair of rival gangs left two suspected drug dealers dead.
The scare rattled a group of tourists that included Americans who were told to run for their lives as gunfire erupted at the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Resort on Thursday afternoon.
“Dozens and dozens of shots,” witness Troy Petenbrink told Miguel Almaguer on TODAY Friday. “Everyone came running off the beach towards us. It was rather surreal.”
The attorney general’s office for the Mexican state of Quintana Roo tweeted that rival gangs had faced off on the beach in Bahía Petempich, and two were dead at the scene.
“About 15 people arrived on the beach to assassinate two men who had showed up saying they were the new dealers in the area,” the head prosecutor of Quintana Roo state, Oscar Montes de Oca, told the Radio Formula station.
“As soon as we saw people running, we realized that this was serious and there was something very wrong happening,” witness Jim Wildermuth told Almaguer on TODAY.
NBC News has also learned that at least one hotel guest was hospitalized.
“The hotel team immediately engaged local authorities,” the resort said in a statement.
Hotel guests received notifications of an “active shooter on property,” and Mexico’s national guard was called to the scene as many guests fled to their rooms and barricaded themselves inside.
“It’s just complete chaos, and we’re talking hundreds of people all converging at once out of the area trying to find cover,” Petenbrink said.
Local authorities have cleared the Hyatt to resume normal operations, according to a spokesperson from the resort.
The incident is the latest in the popular tourist areas of Riviera Maya and Cancun in Cancun as rival drug cartels fight for control. A California travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in the beach town of Tulum on Oct. 20 after being caught in the crossfire during a shootout between rival gangs.
In June, two men were killed on a Cancun beach by assassins on jet-skis who also wounded an American tourist. Two other men were also murdered that month on a beach in Tulum.
Police also raided an area of nearby Playa del Carmen on Thursday and detained 26 suspects after a policewoman in the city was shot to death last week.
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