Increasing murder cases remains outside tourist zone

High profile murders are tarnishing Costa Rica’s international reputation. This is bound to affect high season tourism.

But tourists should be more concerned by luggage theft and street robberies than by fears of being gunned down in a driveby.

Once again the weekend produced a handful of gun deaths. Seven persons died from Friday until Sunday evening, but one man was killed in an exchange of fire with Escazú municipal police. One man died of wounds received Sept. 5.

In addition, Fuerza Pública officers made one arrest a short time after a murder in Paraíso de  Cartago.

As with other weekends, planned killings, bar disputes and vengeance seemed to be the motives creating situations that would not involve tourists.

A 34-year-old woman with the last name of  Guzmán died while driving in Coyal de Alajuela when another car pulled nearby and someone inside opened fire. A companion suffered injuries. Investigators are unsure of the motives.

A driveby also took the life of two men in Hatillo 6 Saturday about 11 p.m. They were identified by the last names of Gómez and Diaz. They, too, were in a vehicle when another car drove by and someone opened fire.

A man with the last name of Soto died about 6 p.m. Friday while standing in front of a family business in Calle Blancos. He was gunned down but the circumstances are not yet clear.

The municipal police action in San Antonio de Escazú took place when neighbors complained of weapons being fired. Police said they found two men in a car who fled when they arrived. When police followed they said they were greeted with bullets, according to investigators.

The 35-year-old man with the last name of Jiménez died and a 17 year old suffered two bullet wounds, according to Judicial investigators.

That case still is under investigation. Agents said that it appears the weapon used against the police vanished and that the only evidence was a bullet clip.

Investigators said they still were trying to identify the victim in Llanos de Santa Lucía, Paraiso de Cartago. That shooting took place about 6 p.m after a dispute. One of the men involved left and returned with a firearm, said investigators. The victim suffered a bullet wound to the left eye. Another man was injured.

Fuerza Pública officers said they found the suspect in the nearby home of a relative. Police said the weapon involved seems to have been stolen from a security guard a few hours earlier.

Also Saturday a man with the last name of  Salazar suffered six bullet wounds about 8 p.m. in Vista Hermosa de Oreamuno. He was hospitalized at Hospital Max Peralta, said investigators.

About 3:40 a.m. Sunday two men suffered knife wounds during an altercation in the Parque Central de Santa Ana, said investigators.

Law enforcement officials blame the wave of murders on drug gangs and disputes over territory.  They say that the murder toll will reach a record of more than 500 this year.

However, an examination of weekend murders and those from previous weeks, show that there is a growing aggressive tendency that sometimes results in fatal street fights and bar shootings.

Most tourists would not be hanging around public parks or low-budget bars after midnight. Nor would they be likely to become embroiled in a personal dispute.

Hotels, restaurants and casinos that cater to tourists have extensive security precautions in place. If tourists do not venture outside these security screens they are unlikely to have a bad experience.

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