‘Shot’: Australian brothers ’killed in robbery’, according to authorities

Estimated read time 7 min read


Australian brothers Jake and Callum Robinson appear to have been killed in a robbery gone wrong, Mexican authorities say as they reveal details about the suspects.

Baja California state Attorney-General Maria Elena Andrade Ramirez said a murder investigation is underway after three bodies believed to belong to the trio were found 15m down a well on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, almost a week after they went missing on a surfing trip in Mexico.

Three suspects have been charged in relation to the deaths.

The bodies have not yet been formally identified but are believed to be Perth brothers Jake, 30, and Callum, 33, as well as Jack Carter Rhoad, 30, a friend from San Diego who was travelling with them.

Ms Andrade Ramirez said this was a “high probability”, “given their clothing and certain characteristics such as long hair and specific physical descriptions”.

One line of inquiry is the three friends were executed during an attempted robbery of their pick-up truck. The burnt-out truck was found near where the bodies were discovered.

“When they tried to get the vehicle, the victims opposed the robbery, the robbers were armed with a firearm and apparently shot the victims,” she told 7News.

Shell casings were found at the campsite were the trio was last seen, a surfing spot known as La Bocana at Santo Tomas, local media reports.

On Saturday, authorities identified the three suspects as Jesús Gerardo Garica Cota (alias El Kekas), his partner Ari Gisel García Cota, and his brother Cristian Alejandro García, according to local Spanish language media outlet Zeta Tijuana and Talk Baja.

They have all been charged with a crime equivalent to kidnapping, officials said. It was unclear if they might face more charges.

Earlier on Friday, the Baja California Attorney-General said three Mexican nationals – two brothers and a 23-year-old woman – had been detained in connection with the surfers’ disappearances, and that they were allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamines and other illegal drugs when they were arrested.

Local media also reported that the female suspect had a phone belonging to one of the Australian brothers.

A fourth body, believed to be that of the ranch owner who had been missing for several weeks was also found in the area on a cliff at Punta San José, in Santo Tomás, Ensenada, during a search for the missing surfers. His death is not thought to be connected to the other bodies found in the well, according to officials.

Callum, 33, and Jake, 30, from Perth, and Jack Rhoad, 30, from San Diego, were last known to have been in Rosarita, in the Baja California region.

Prior to human remains being found in the well, local police located an abandoned campsite with traces of blood and a tooth – where the men are believed to have stayed, according to Zeta and 7News.

“A white pickup vehicle was located, as well as other evidence,” the state prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The investigation was being coordinated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Australian and US consulates, it said.

The bodies are yet to be formally identified but authorities say they’re confident they know who the victims are, as they await forensic test results to confirm their suspicions.

“I’m saying it’s a very, very high probability that it is them,” Ms Ramírez told 9News, referring to the Australian brothers and their friend.

“They were in a state of decomposition.

“That is why we have to run the genetic tests.”

Callum’s university team Stevenson University Lacrosse claimed in a social media post the pair had been killed.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our dear teammate and friend, Callum Robinson,” the club said.

“From his days leading us to victory on the field to his unwavering commitment to academic excellence, Callum was a true inspiration to us all.”

The club said Callum had played a pivotal role in the team’s Division III National Championship in 2013, and had amassed “equally impressive academic achievements”.

“But, beyond his accolades, Callum will be remembered for his infectious spirit and larger-than-life personality,” the club said.
“With his beautiful long hair and charming smile, he truly embodied the nickname ‘big koala’ — warm, friendly, and always there to lend a helping hand.

“Though he may be gone, Callum’s legacy will live on in our hearts forever.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time. Rest easy, Callum. You will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.”

News of the young man’s apparent death, which is yet to be formally confirmed, was widely shared by the club, its members, and many more.

In an Instagram post, his teammate Will Manny thanked Callum for “showing everyone how to smile big, laugh hard and enjoy life:

“Callum Robinson, Jake Robinson and Jack Rhoad – Rest in Peace – and to your families, the lacrosse community is here for you,” he said.

Brett Hiken described the young player as “one of one” who he said he was lucky to have “gotten to love and know”.

“You made everyone feel like family and everyone was your best friend,” he said.

“Our best memories were always with you. Truth is, everyone wanted to be like you but no one was even on the same planet.

“It was a honour to get be your friend. The room turned every time you entered without even opening your mouth.

“Love you like the brother you are and most importantly thank you. Everyone gets to live, but man not everyone truly lives. You certainly lived.”

Earlier, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman confirmed the Australian embassy in Mexico was working closely with the AFP and local police.

“DFAT recognises this is a very distressing time for the family and is in regular contact with them to provide support,” they said.

“Owing to our privacy obligations we are unable to provide further comment.”

The tragic developments came as Debra and Martin Robinson made their way to the area where their sons were last seen.

The couple said Callum had been living in the US to follow his dream of becoming a professional lacrosse player.

“He is widely known in the US as the Big Koala,” they said.

“We think of him as our big, soft, friendly giant.”

Jake only left Australia two weeks ago to visit his brother.

“It was a trip of a lifetime to see his brother, before shortly taking up a new position at Geelong Hospital in Victoria,” the parents said.

“Callum and Jake are beautiful human beings. We love them so much and this breaks our heart.”

They said Jake had worked in regional hospitals across Australia.

Jake and Callum had attended the Coachella music festival before going to Mexico to surf.

“Jake is such a gentle soul and would want no harm,” his parents said.

“Our only comfort right now is that they were together doing something they passionately love.

“We ask people to keep them in their thoughts and prayers and to continue to respect our privacy at this distressing time.”

The Department of Foreign ­Affairs and Trade said they were continuing to provide consular assistance to the family.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the brothers’ disappearance as “a really concerning situation”.

“Our embassy in Mexico is working with local authorities as well to try to ascertain what has happened here,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Friday.

“We certainly hope that these brothers are found safely but there is real concern about the fact that they’ve gone missing.

“Their mother is obviously very distressed about this and we just hope for a positive outcome.”

While popular for surfing, Baja California has plagued by gang violence, including the infamous Tijuana cartel.

– With NCA newswire


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