Pat Landers & Karla Baca: Syracuse golf pro and his teacher girlfriend killed in Mexico after gunmen fired 20 bullets into their jeep during intense fighting between drug cartels.
A central NY man who’d been quarantining in Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic was fatally shot along with his girlfriend when gunmen opened fire on their Jeep earlier this week, according to reports.
Pat Landers, 32, of upstate Baldwinsville, Syracuse and his girlfriend, Karla Baca, 38, a physical education teacher, were driving along a street in Juarez on Monday in the vehicle with New York plates when at least 20 bullets were fired at them, KTSM reports.
Local media reported the couple being shot shortly after entering the Jeep, and moments after leaving a cellphone store.
It remained unclear how the couple came to be targeted or were accidentally caught in the crosshairs of drug cartels gunfire.
Police in the border city just south of El Paso, Texas, are investigating the attack, which left Landers’ son, Cameron, fatherless.
Despite a stay-at-home order since March 23, more than 100 killings have been reported in Juarez this month, according to the dailymail. Police have attributed most of the violence to drug cartels feuding for territory and control of the rampant illicit narco trade.
Motive under investigation with no arrests:
Landers and Baca had been dating for the past three or four months and were hunkered down in Mexico due to the pandemic, his Syracuse-area friend Dave LaBarge told the Post-Standard.
‘He was a good dude,’ LaBarge said of the gunned down golf pro. ‘He had an extraordinary life.’
According to the El Paso Times, Baca, had started a job teaching last fall at an elementary school in Juarez. It is thought that Landers had traveled south to spend time with his new love interest.
When Landers was 13 years old, he sank a hole-in-one at the Pope’s Grove Golf Course and another at the Millstone Golf Course six years later, according to the Post-Standard.
Landers, who was a landlord for investment properties in the Syracuse area, recently finished remodeling a house along the Seneca River, according to his friend.
Another friend, Adam Howe, described meeting Landers on a trip to Texas several months ago, adding that he liked to travel to Las Vegas and other areas in the South because of the warm weather.
Howe said the last time they spoke was just a few days ago when Landers said he was trying to learn more Spanish — and joked that if he ate any more churros, he’d be fatter than him.
Howe said he spent all of Tuesday crying when he found out that Landers, who was supposed to be a groomsman at his July wedding, had been killed.
‘I want people to know he was a great father and loved his son, Cameron,’ Howe told Spectrum News. ‘He loved him more than anything in the world.’
To date, Mexico authorities have made no arrests in connection with the couple’s deaths.