A Virginia doctor was shot multiple times while on vacation in San Pedro, Belize. Dr. Gary Swank, 53, was traveling with his wife and children, neighbors tell WSLS. Swank, an avid fly fisherman, chartered a day trip with an independent local tour guide, 53-year-old Mario Graniel. Swank and Graniel set out on a fly fishing expedition at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Police later found them dead in a lagoon in the San Pedro area of the country.
Police believe that the gunmen were targeting the tour guide and not the doctor. Authorities told the San Pedro Sun that someone had shot at Graniel’s home the night before his murder, but that he still came to work the following day. Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams told local Channel 5 news that Graniel “had a misunderstanding with one of the local notorious gang” figures of San Pedro, NBC reports. It seems this is a rare occurrence of a tourist fisherman being harmed in the country of Belize. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the Swank and Graniel.
It is advised when traveling on fishing trips into developing countries to use extra caution and to put more effort into background research of the outfitter and guide you are using. The best bet is to use a trusted fly fishing travel agent or well-established fishing outfitter and lodge and avoid using independent guides off the street.