An eyewitness describes a scene of confusion and horror following the shooting that reportedly left five dead and 15 injured at The BPM Festival in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in the early hours of Monday, Jan. 16.
Billboard spoke with an internationally-known male DJ/producer, whose name has been redacted due to safety concerns as he has not yet left Mexico. This attendee says he and his friends had walked to the back of the beachfront Blue Parrot club for some fresh air when the sound of “10 to 15 gunshots” rang out between 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.
“We heard what sounded like firecrackers and people started hitting the ground,” he recalls. “I looked up above my head and there were all these little red sparks like hitting wires.”
He says security and event staff at the 1,500 capacity venue originally blamed the disruption on firecrackers and the music’s volume returned to normal, but he soon saw wounded club goers running to the fenced beach at the club’s rear.
“It didn’t even seem real,” he says. “There was a guy five meters in front of us and blood just started gushing out of his arm. And these kids covered in blood from the middle of the club were running towards the fence and that’s when more shots started going and everyone started running.”
He describes hopping over the fence and seeing a woman’s bloodied body on the other side. He and his friends ran down an alleyway before seeing “three or four bodies” lying there, then turned back to join a stream of people running down the beach.
“None of the hotels on the beach would let anyone in to hide,” he says. “They just kept forcing us down the beach. There was definitely someone at the top of the beach coming down because everyone just started running down the other way being, like, ‘There’s another f–king gunman.'”
The artist was staying at a hotel nearby the Blue Parrot venue and was able to offer shelter to a number of escapees, including a girl who claimed to have witnessed another gunman at the Coco Maya beach club next door to Blue Parrot.
Asked of the police’s official version of events, which rules out a terrorist act and accounts for just one gunman, the DJ is skeptical and says he is confident that there were multiple gunmen. He describes a “massive lack of panic from law enforcement,” pointing to uncorroborated local reports of cartel involvement and a 20- to 30-minute delay between the shootings and the arrival of ambulances and emergency personnel.
“This felt like a statement,” he says. “Closing night of BPM at the most iconic venue, and it’s being live-streamed. And this area is making money off this, so why would the cops just let this happen? They weren’t doing anything to help.”
Although fearing for his own life, the DJ says he decided to speak hours after the horrific events of Jan. 16 because, “I want people to know the truth, because it was not just some crazy lone gunman. I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.”