An American anarchist who went by the name John Galton was shot dead at his home in the Mexican resort of Acapulco, sending shivers through a tightknit anti-establishment community of expatriates that organizes events in the violence-torn retreat with seminars on topics such as how to make money via cryptocurrencies.
A woman describing herself as John's partner, Lily, said via social media that she saw the gunmen go straight for John and his friend Jason Henza, 43. Henza made it to a private hospital with bullet wounds in an armpit, leg and hand. The hospital said he checked out that same day. Mexican police found equipment to process drugs, glass pipes and marijuana plants at the home.
Lily and Henza both posted videos to Facebook immediately after the shooting. Lily screamed: "I really need help! Somebody please come." In his post, a bearded Henza said in a blood-smattered T-Shirt: "We were attacked. I've been shot three times. I'm not doing so good."
Prior to the shooting, John and Lily hosted weekly "Meat Ups" at a local restaurant where self-professed carnivores dined only on meat. They were also busy recruiting speakers for an anarchist conference set to take place in Acapulco later in February. The dreadlocked couple, both in their 20s, posted a video to Facebook two months ago calling for attendees at the conference.
"We want freedom of ideas," John said from the patio of a house that the couple rented for $400 a month high above the bay of Acapulco. Waves lapped gently far below and roosters crowed as he spoke.
Lily did not respond to request for comment via social media on Saturday. Henza declined to comment. A U.S. Department of State official said the Bureau of Consular Affairs was aware of an investigation into the death of a U.S. citizen in Acapulco, but that it couldn't provide additional information due to privacy considerations.
John Galton could be a pseudonym, a nod to John Galt, the fictional character who defies convention in Ayn Rand's individualistic tome "Atlas Shrugged." John Galt is idolized among some anarchist groups who resent state overreach.
In a separate video posted to a YouTube channel called Press For Truth, John and Lily described how, in early 2016, they fled drug charges in the U.S. John said they each faced up to 25 years in prison for manufacture of a controlled substance - specifically, condensing marijuana into powerful extracts - that Lily used for chronic pain.
No U.S. federal court records for drug charges were found under the name John Galton.
In a second video a year later by Press For Truth, the couple detailed how they were getting by financially through selling glass drug pipes that Lily blew into shape. When asked about the high crime rates in Acapulco, the blue-eyed anarchist with scruffy facial hair said: "I'd say it's safer than any big city I've lived in in the U.S., like way safer than Chicago or something like that."
Guerrero state, home to Acapulco, has a murder rate of 64.2 per 100,000 residents, more than two times that of Chicago. Acapulco has become a hotbed for violence between drug gangs.
"There's pockets of freedom all over the world," John said in the video. "There's so much that's more free about where we live here."
Associated Press writer Jose Antonio Rivera contributed to this story.