LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW) – Attorneys released a statement Tuesday on behalf of two Lake City, South Carolina natives who survived being kidnapped in Mexico earlier this month.
Four friends who were traveling to Mexico so one member of the party could have cosmetic surgery were caught up in a drug cartel shootout in Matamoros. After a vehicle crashed into their van, men in tactical vests with assault rifles arrived in another vehicle and surrounded them just across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Two of the Americans, Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown appeared to have been killed immediately and their bodies were loaded into a truck with the two survivors, Eric Williams and Latavia McGee.
The bodies and the two living friends were found days later in a shack.
In a statement released Tuesday, civil rights attorneys Harry Daniels and Jason Keith, representing Williams and McGee, thanked everyone for their concern and support.
“Over the past few weeks, Eric and Latavia have been through a nightmare the likes of which most of us can hardly believe,” the statement read. “Now as they continue to recover from their physical and psychological injuries, we wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for the unbelievable outpouring of concern and support.”
Williams has had five surgeries since being rescued and returned to Brownsville, Texas, his wife told Nexstar’s WBTW last week.
“Every thought and prayer has been felt and they have mattered more than you could imagine,” the statement continued. “As we move forward, we ask for your continued support as we pursue every avenue seeking justice for Eric and Latavia and to hold those responsible for the deaths of Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown accountable.”
Records show the gun that was used in the kidnappings came from the United States.
Roberto Lugardo Moreno, who admitted to purchasing firearms that he knew would be going from the U.S. to a Mexican drug cartel, was arrested Monday after authorities determined one of the weapons was linked to the kidnapping.
The serial number of a firearm he purchased in October 2019 matched that of a gun recovered by authorities that was linked to the March 3 kidnappings, according to the complaint. Moreno said he didn’t apply for a license to export the firearm from the U.S. to Mexico, and knew it would be illegally exported, the complaint said.
Moreno made an initial appearance Monday at a federal court in Brownsville and was appointed a public defender, who did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment. His detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.