The distinguished Virginia doctor Gary Swank was fatally shot alongside his tour guide Mario Graniel.
Today we learned the tragic news that Carilion interventional cardiologist Dr. Gary Swank was found murdered in Belize, along with a local tour guide. The entire Carilion family extends our heartfelt thoughts and support to his beloved family. pic.twitter.com/9JR0ZaJpMH
— Carilion Clinic (@CarilionClinic) June 24, 2019
The woman, whose identity was not released due to her not having been charged, is believed to have played an important role in the killing of both 53-year-old men.
At the same time, she is thought to be very close to Graniel, according to reports from Ambergris Caye, the island where the incident occurred, reported Channel 5 Belize.
She is now cooperating with the investigators.
Swank and Graniel were gunned down on Sunday 10 a.m. as they were fishing in a boat at the San Pedro Town lagoon. They were killed by someone on a who opened fire on a passing boat, reported the NY Post.
Police understand that Graniel was the intended target due to a dispute he had with a local gang figure.
“What we are gathering after the fact is that the deceased, Mr. Greniel, had a misunderstanding with a notorious gang figure in San Pedro,” said Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams, reported WDBJ7.
— The San Pedro Sun (@SanPedroSun) June 25, 2019
Police received a call of shots being fired: Graniel’s dwelling had been attacked on Friday, and gunshot damage was found in his front door. According to Williams, police then remained in the area to protect Graniel and the people around his house.
“We maintain police presence in the area to protect him and the community from further shootings but we can’t follow the man everywhere he goes,” Williams said. “He decided to go out with a tourist. We don’t have a boat to follow him. We cannot put police on every tour guide boat. … I don’t see what else we could have done.”
“Police are conducting interviews and I believe some persons may be detained at this time,” said Superintendent Hilberto Romero with the Crimes Investigation Branch. “The police have interviews to conduct and that is what they are presently doing.”
— Tamara Sniffin (@EditorSPSUN) June 26, 2019
Belize police officials said that Dr. Swank was a “victim of circumstance.” and “collateral damage.” He had received several gunshot wounds.
His family released a statement, it says:
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our incredible husband and devoted father Gary Swank, M.D., who we will forever cherish. His senseless murder has left us to mourn a purposeful life ended too soon.
“Gary was an incredibly driven individual, both professionally and personally, and we were blessed to have been a part of his life. His death will be felt throughout the community, as he was a physician, caregiver, teacher, mentor, avid outdoorsman, neighbor, colleague, and friend to many.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming love shown by family, friends, patients, and strangers. For the countless prayers, flowers, and phone calls thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Swank was highly regarded by many of his patients, Channel 5 reported. “I was stunned and I was shocked. I had tears because I was so excited about seeing him at my next visit. He was very kind, very firm. He educated well. If he had not been the type of doctor that he was I would have probably not have seen him. Our first was in the E.R.” said Rhonda Saunders.
— Central America News Network (@CtrlAmericaNews) June 26, 2019
Dr. Gary Swank was found floating face down with several gunshot wounds over the weekend in a lagoon in San Pedro. https://t.co/fneww9VH8O
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 26, 2019