by Sandra Dibble
Sign On San Diego
In a rare shooting at the San Ysidro border crossing, two San Diego workers were killed early Monday as they sat in a pickup waiting to enter the U.S. The men were on their way to work when someone shot them repeatedly with a 9 mm weapon.
The Baja California Attorney General’s Office identified the victims as Kevin Joel Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido Luna, 25. The agency provided few details of the incident, which occurred at about 2:40 a.m., a time when many workers are in line to cross.
The men’s employer said they lived in Tijuana and worked for West Coast Beverage Maintenance, a company on Morena Boulevard that services and cleans draft beer equipment for bars and restaurants.
Matt Pelot, the company’s owner, said Romero and Salcido had worked for him for about 1 1/2 years. He said both were U.S. citizens who lived in Mexico to keep down expenses.
“They were good guys,” Pelot said. “I don’t think they were dealing drugs, selling drugs or anything to do with drugs. They were both very hardworking individuals. They had a zest for life.”
A Mexican law-enforcement source said the two men apparently were targeted by an assailant who approached on foot between the lines of vehicles, fired his weapon and fled. The Attorney General’s Office statement said that they had been shot in the head, chest, and arms.
Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez told reporters that detectives were investigating the possibility that the incident could be drug related. He said one of the victims – he did not say which one – had a “small packet of drugs among his belongings.”
Neither U.S. nor Mexican officials immediately confirmed the men’s nationality Monday. But a U.S. law-enforcement source said that it appeared that neither had criminal records.
Pelot said the men were friends who would cross early, as many workers do, and take a nap before showing up for work. Both worked out in gyms and were clean cut.
The younger of the two, Salcido, was a cage fighter – a form of martial arts – who was training for a fight in June. Romero was in the process of adopting his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son. “They worked real hard and wanted to pick up as much overtime as possible,” Pelot said.
More than 24 million people crossed in personal vehicles last fiscal year at the San Ysidro border crossing, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Shootings in the border crossing lanes are extremely rare. In January 2002, a Mexican soldier sprayed bullets into cars waiting in line on the Mexican side of the Otay Mesa border crossing, wounding three people. In April 1995, a stray bullet from a police shootout hit an innocent Mexican motorist in the head as he was waiting in line to cross into the United States, killing him instantly.