Before four African-Americans became a tragedy in Matamoros, Mexico, there was a sense of unease surrounding the journey.
Red Flags Ignored
According to statements of their relatives, there were a plethora of warning signs that recommended they remain at home.
Latavia McGeee had pre-booked a cosmetic procedure abroad following the birth of her six children. As reported by AP News, she had paid a visit to the doctor during 2021. Her cousin, Shaeed Woodard, had his 34th birthday that month; thus the two, along with Zindell Brown and Eric Williams, chose to make a vacation out of it and hired a minivan to traverse the border. The medical facility was located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, along the southern boundary.
Brown had a premonition prior to the trip, telling his elder sister that they should not go.
“He said, ‘Something, it just doesn’t feel right,’” his older sister Zalandria Brown told The Associated Press over the phone. “(That was) the last thing we talked about.”
Slipping into a protective stance for the man that she termed her “hip bone”, Brown urged her brother to not take the excursion planned earlier this month. Being a person who habitually assists others, however, Brown was not surprised her sibling disregarded the feeling and agreed to drive with his group of childhood friends on a road trip to Mexico, where one was scheduled for cosmetic surgery and another planned to celebrate his 34th birthday.
Brown’s mother, Christina Hickson, said she was unaware of the trip but if she had known, she would’ve suggested her son not to go. Brown and Woodard were both shot and killed in the attack by the drug cartel.
“When I found out, he was en route in Mississippi… I would have never allowed them to get in that truck,” she said to WPDE.
McGee’s mother previously told reporters she had an ominous feeling about the trip as well and warned her daughter not to go. Williams’ mother told AP News her son had never left the country before. The four had no comprehension of the hazards of travelling through the area.
Orange Left Behind
A fifth person, who’s spoken out for the first time since the incident, Cheryl Orange, says she was detained in Brownsville, Tx. because she had forgotten her ID and couldn’t pass through the border. She told AP News she anticipated the group to drop off McGee to her appointment and be back in 15 minutes, though, they never made it to the clinic. After a few hours, Orange contacted the police worried for their safety. Almost instantaneously the case was handed to the FBI.
She told AP News the survivors are still too traumatized to talk about the incident.
The entire situation has been excruciating for the families to recover from but even more for the ones whose loved ones weren’t returning home alive.
“I’ve just been trying to make sense out of it for a whole week. Just restless, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. It’s just crazy to see your own child taken away from you in such a way, in a violent way like that. He didn’t deserve it,” said Woodard’s father, James, via AP.