February 25, 2024
Left to right: Latavia Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown.
Left to right: Latavia Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown. (From Michele Williams & Facebook)

Two of the Americans who were kidnapped at gunpoint in a Mexican border city on Friday have returned to the US and are being treated at a hospital, while the remains of the two Americans who were killed are expected to be repatriated back to the US soon.

Here’s a timeline of what happened:

Driving into Mexico: A tight-knit group of four friends — LaTavia Washington McGee, Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown — had driven to Mexico from South Carolina so Washington McGee could undergo a medical procedure in Matamoros, two family members told CNN. The group crossed into Matamoros at about 9:18 a.m. Friday, Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal said.

Getting lost on the way: After becoming lost on their way to the clinic, the friends tried to reach the doctor’s office for directions but were having difficulty because of a poor phone signal, a close friend said.

The kidnapping: At some point as the friends were driving, unidentified gunmen fired on their minivan and then loaded the Americans into their vehicle and took them away, according to the FBI. A Mexican official said Tuesday that the gunmen were driving a pickup truck.

A video obtained by CNN that matches the description of the incident shows a woman and other unidentified people being roughly loaded into a white pickup. The video showed the woman being pulled or pushed onto the bed of the truck by two unidentified people as a third armed man watches before the men appear to drag at least two limp people onto the truck bed. CNN has not independently confirmed it is the four Americans who are shown in the video.

Authorities start investigating: When Mexican authorities arrived on the scene, they noticed the Americans’ van had North Carolina license plates and reached out to US officials, who were able to run the plates, according to Tamaulipas Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica.

Investigators began processing vehicles, obtaining ballistics and fingerprint data, taking biological samples for genetic profiles and gathering surveillance camera footage, Mexican officials said.

Gunmen identified: Police were able to identify the gunmen’s truck, Barrios Mojica said. Officials then initiated “several searches” with different agencies, he said.

Americans found: The Americans were finally found at a house outside Matamoros on Tuesday morning, the attorney general said. At the scene, two of the friends – Woodard and Brown – were dead while Washington McGee and Williams were still alive.

Washington McGee is expected to come home Wednesday, her mother, Barbara McLeod Burgess, said in an interview with CNN. Williams was shot in the legs three times and was brought to a hospital in Texas to undergo surgery, his wife, Michele Williams, told CNN.

CNN’s Abel Alvarado, Sharif Paget, Amanda Jackson, Gloria Pazmino, Norma Galeana, David Shortell, Jennifer Hansler, Caroll Alvarado, Betsy Klein, Karol Suarez, Chenelle Woody, Paradise Afshar and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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