Reports Say Gang May Have Thought Davidson Man Was A US Agent Before Killing Him
Drug traffickers who allegedly killed a North Carolina man in Mexico last month may have suspected he was a U.S. drug enforcement agent. That's according to Mexican news reports this week about the killing of 34-year-old Patrick Braxton-Andrew.
The newspaper El Heraldo in Chihuahua quotes residents in the village of Urique as saying Braxton-Andrew may have encountered armed men at a party the day he disappeared, Oct. 28. One resident told the newspaper that the men — part of a local group affiliated with the Sinaloa drug cartel — may have felt threatened by Braxton-Andrew's questions in fluent Spanish. He stood out from other foreigners, they said.
Braxton-Andrew was a world traveler, a Spanish teacher at Woodlawn School and a tutor. According to his parents, Jean Braxton and Gary Andrew of Davidson, and brother, Kerry Braxton-Andrew, he was on a solo trip to the area around Copper Canyon National Park when he disappeared on Oct. 28.
After a trip on a tourist train known as El Chepe, through the canyon, he wound up in Urique. It's a former mining village near the national park. In recent years, the area has seen violent conflicts over illegal logging, which locals believe might be a front for Mexican drug cartels. But Patrick Braxton-Andrew was an experienced traveler and often traveled alone throughout Latin America.
[Last Thursday, the U.S. State Department updated its warnings about travel in Mexico. “Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery is widespread,” the advisory says.]
Kerry Braxton-Andrew told WFAE that Patrick left his hotel on a Sunday afternoon wearing flip-flops or sandals, carrying only his phone and possibly a book. He had been messaging with friends and family but around that time, the messages stopped.
He was supposed to meet Kerry in Mexico City a couple of days later. When he didn't arrive, the family contacted authorities and a massive search began. Last week, Governor of Chihuahua Javier Corral Jurado told the family he had been murdered. The governor blamed his murder on a local gang leader known as "El Chueco."
His body was still missing until last weekend, when authorities said it had been found near a road a few miles from Urique. The newspaper El Heraldo said an autopsy found that Braxton-Andrew died of a 9 millimeter gunshot to the head.
Meanwhile, hundreds of yellow ribbons have begun appearing in and around Davidson, in memory of the Woodlawn School Spanish teacher. In a message on a Facebook group, his parents Jean Braxton and Gary Andrew of Davidson asked friends and colleagues to hold off on planning any public memorial services or making donations in his memory.