Student Killed in TJ Shootout

By R. Stickney and Nicole Ward
|  Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010  |  Updated 6:39 AM PDT
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Jose Labastida

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Five recent executions in Tijuana, reportedly tied to organized crime, included the death of a teenager who lived in Tijuana and attended a private school in San Diego.

Jose Labastida, a junior at Mater Dei Catholic High School in Otay Mesa, lived with his family in Tijuana. His family owned the Calimex chain of grocery stores throughout Mexico.

Precautions had been taken to protect Labastida from becoming a ransom target but on Monday, outside a relative's home in an upscale neighborhood, more than 50 bullets were fired into a car with Labastida inside.

Thomas Clayton Beecher, President of Mater Dei, said he doesn't know how many of the bullets hit Labastida.

According to news reports in Mexico, the shooting may have been triggered by a botched kidnapping.

The FBI in San Diego monitors kidnappings involving U.S. citizens in Mexico and has seen an important change over the past few years.

"So, you had a lot of kidnappings involving bad guy on bad guy, but that changed and they started targeting innocent civilians," said the FBI's Darrell Foxworth. "People that were not involved in any criminal activity whatsoever."

The killing was one of five separate murders in Tijuana according to ElUniversal.com.mx.

Among the other killings, a restaurant security guard was shot and killed by men in a passing car in the area of Del Bosque.

A federal police officer told the Spanish-language newspaper that the head of another victim was found in a tunnel next to the Mexicali-Tijuana Highway. The body has not been recovered.

And while none of the other killings appears to involve tourists, the FBI says everyone should be aware of the problem.

"It's all about just knowing where you're going and paying attention to your surrounding," said Foxworth.

Beecher said Labastida was a great golfer and was hoping to play on the school's team this year. He transferred into Mater Dei last year.

Counselors were on hand at Mater Dei Tuesday to help students cope with the news. Many could not believe the news. "He was funny. he was quiet at times, but he was a sweetheart," said one student.

A memorial service is planned at the school Wednesday.

Some of the precautions used to protect Labastida included using a different last name than his grandfather who started the grocery stores, and also using someone else's picture on his facebook page.
 

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