A father and daughter from west suburban Aurora and an 81-year-old relative who were recently ambushed in Mexico while traveling to visit family for Christmas were likely targeted, the family's attorney said.
Jose Luis Gutierrez, 52, a gardener, was shot twice by unknown attackers and left on the side of the road in Zacatecas, which is northwest of Mexico City. His father, 81-year-old Jose de Jesus Gutierrez, and daughter, Sofia Gutierrez, 19, were beaten in the incident.
Jose Luis Gutierrez sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to a hospital. The three were heading to visit their family in the western state of Jalisco for Christmas.
The ambush comes just days after the U.S. State Department urged travelers to Mexico to use increased caution after a spike in violent crime in the country.
"They target you just simply because you come from the U.S., and they know that to come to Mexico, you're probably going to have gifts, you're going to have valuables," said family attorney Manuel Cardenas.
Family members have reached out to both United States and Mexican authorities in search of answers. What led up to the incident, and who is responsible, remain unclear.
The League of United American Citizens is working to the family to make sure their relatives get medical treatment and return to the U.S.