Medellin hostels ‘shocked’ by US tourist shooting

Hostel workers in Colombia’s second city Medellin have expressed their shock at the fatal shooting of a U.S. tourist Tuesday night.

An anonymous source told Colombia Reports, “Everything seems sad and strange. We are slightly in shock.”

Hostel worker Pilar Piedrita told Colombia Reports that owners had asked police for extra security after three people entered El Tamarindo hostel in El Poblado, a wealthy part of the city, and shot dead 58-year-old native New Yorker Dennis Levy following a dispute.

“[Hostel owners] have made an agreement with the police to bring in mobile police stations and also to build a permanent station close by,” said Piedrita. “The idea is to have police patrolling the neighborhood at night.”

In a statement sent to Colombia Reports, Medellin Police Commander Yesid Prada said, “two women and one man were robbing the hostel. They were asking the staff for money. This was around 12:50 am. [Levy] saw the robbery and intervened in the situation. Unfortunately one of the criminals was carrying a firearm and shot [Levy] in the upper abdomen. He died two hours later after receiving medical attention at a local hospital.”

The shooting followed a recent robbery at another El Poblado hostel, Tiger Paw. Hostel worker Eli told Colombia Reports, “The thief came in with a guest and began searching rooms for valuables. When [staff] locked him in one of the rooms he escaped out the window.”

Levy’s death is not the first time foreigners have been targets of violence.

Last January 45-year-old US citizen Daniel Fernandez was shot to death in the in the Medellin suburb of Bello, and last year a British tourist was killed in an attempted robbery in Medellin’s Belen district, which is near El Poblado.

Despite these incidents, Medellin’s tourism industry expressed concern that the city’s and Colombia’s image would be unfairly affected by the incident.

Piedrita said, “These are things that can happen anywhere in the world. On top of that safety in Medellin has really improved. […] Poblado is normally one of the safest parts of Medellin.”

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