A Palm Springs real estate agent was injured early Saturday when he was shot while walking through Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in what he and his husband are calling a hate crime.
At about 2:30 a.m., at the end of a night of dancing, Carl Blea and Marc Lange were holding hands and walking to the condo where they were staying, Lange said. As they passed through a plaza, a man standing nearby yelled something at them. Blea then noticed the man pull out a gun and tried to get himself and Lange to safety.
Lange, speaking by phone from a Puerto Vallarta hospital Sunday morning, said a bullet struck Blea below his right buttock and exited through his thigh. He said if Blea hadn't seen the gun and reacted so quickly, both of them might be dead.
The men believe the shooting was a targeted hate crime because they're gay. Lange called it "a random act of hatred." He said he's told police what happened multiple times.
A local news report mentioned a robbery attempt and struggles between the gunman and the couple. But Lange said that is not what happened and he's worried local authorities are trying to cover up the incident because it could hurt tourism in a city popular with foreign vacationers.
"We never uttered a word to (the gunman)," Lange said.
Blea and Lange are both real estate agents with HOM Sotheby's International Realty.
They hope to return home Monday. The gunman remains at large.
Advocacy groups say Mexico sees a high rate of violent attacks against LGBT people, with the group Letra S counting an average of six homicides of LGBT people each month between 2014 and 2016. Same-sex marriages have been legal in some parts of Mexico since 2010 and laws now vary by state.