“That was the scariest part, I walked by and didn’t even feel a thing,” commented my friend Luisa, after posting that there was a shooting in Calle Sexta in front of a popular bar on Friday night. “Yup, I was there,” commented Fernando. “I walked out, checked the scene, went back and ordered another round. About 70 percent of the clientele stayed.”
I was there before the shooting and a few minutes after. I was touring the city with two girls, one from San Diego who I met on a dating app, and her cousin who was visiting from San Francisco. We enjoyed tuna tostadas and drinks at the trendy Telefónica Gastro Park before heading to the timeless cantina on Calle Sexta, Dandy del Sur.
“We have to take her to the mezcal place,” commented my date as we left the bar. It was only around 8 pm, and the back part of La Mezcalera doesn’t open until later at night, so I shifted the tour out of Calle Sexta. We wasted time bar hopping in Avenida Revolución stopping for craft beer at Border Psycho and rum especiales at Nelson Bar.
After a couple of especiales, it was time to revisit Calle Sexta, but it was closed. The street, which got remodeled this year to accommodate tourists and partygoers, was occupied with more than a dozen cops. Numerous police trucks, an ambulance, and impromptu yellow tape blocked the path where we were drinking moments ago. My date still wanted to go to the mezcal place, though the street had turned into a crime scene.
We went to get cocktails nearby at Cine Tonalá to waste time and hope for it to pass. The rooftop bar greeted us with a relaxing atmosphere filled with tourists though police lights shined nearby. After cocktails, we went to get street tacos at Las Amigas near Calle Sexta, and the street remained closed. My date insisted again in the mezcal bar, so I obliged and took them through the back-entrance which is situated through a parking lot on Madero Avenue (one down from Revolución).
Despite not being as full as it usually is for a Friday at midnight, the bar was unaffected by the ongoing outside drama. “They killed a guy over at Blanco y Negro,” the bartender of La Mezcalera told me as he poured us three shots of mezcal. “Si no es a un lado, es en frente" (“If it is not next door, it’s right in front”),” he told me as he handed me my change.
Just a week before, a man was gunned down at the door of Bar Chips (next to La Mezcalera).
“I was sitting down on a bench between Tropics and La Estrella, and I heard people arguing over by Chips,” recounts Kevin Hernández, a friend who happened to be in Calle Sexta the week before on a Saturday around 4:35 am. “It was all really fast, I saw him pulling out a gun and I heard four or five gunshots. There was a lady eating a burrito screaming getting all hysterical and people were wondering what was going on. I was the one that called 911 to ask for an ambulance. A few minutes later it was as if nothing had happened. Then I saw on the paper that they claimed he was shot inside the bathroom.”
I told the girls that someone was killed at the bar where they tried to usher is in a few hours ago. They shrugged off as we drank the mezcal and went to the patio of the bar to dance (or attempt to). We left the bar at around 3 am, and Calle Sexta looked as if nothing had happened.
The news the next day reported that there were four murders that night in Tijuana. One of them was the one we almost witnessed. It was reported the man was between the ages of 25-30, was not identified, and was shot in the head in front of La Estrella (in front of Blanco y Negro). Another was a 43-year-old man named José Figueroa Pérez, found dead from bullet wounds in the neighborhood of Lomas Verdes, which is the same neighborhood the two San Diego teens were murdered.
The other two were: 32-year-old Alejandro Rubalcaba Carmona, found in the neighborhood Villas de Baja California, and 29-year-old Cruz Ricardo Félix, found in the neighborhood of Camino Verde.
Averaging more than half a dozen murders daily, there have been more than 2,176 murders in Tijuana. Violence is everywhere, but the city continues to party.