A 65-year-old Floral Park man was shot to death Friday in Colombia during an apparent robbery attempt in a wealthy enclave of Medellin, officials there said, according to his brother.
Joe Mariani, 66, brother of John Mariani, told Newsday in a telephone interview Sunday that John was a lifelong resident of Floral Park and a contractor in the auto industry. He had been visiting Colombia with another Long Islander, his brother said.
According to a report from The Associated Press, police in Colombia said John Mariani was attacked Friday night when his taxi was intercepted by gunmen in a car and on a motorcycle. They said the assailants tried to take his wallet and personal belongings and then shot him before fleeing.
U.S. Embassy officials had no immediate comment, but police said Mariani arrived in Medellin from Costa Rica.
The El Poblado neighborhood where the shooting occurred is one of Medellin's wealthiest and safest enclaves. It is home to the city's vibrant dining scene and dozens of high-rise apartment buildings and hotels.
Joe Mariani, a Mineola resident, said he did not know the name of the man with whom John Mariani was traveling, but he said the man was his brother's "best friend." Joe Mariani said he was waiting for the friend to get back from Colombia Sunday to find out exactly what happened during the incident that left his brother dead.
"All we know is there was a robbery," Joe Mariani said. "As far as I know the friend was paying for the cab [they had been riding in] and he [John Mariani] stepped out on the other side [of the cab]."
Joe Mariani said his brother had gone to Costa Rica first with his friend, who Joe said John Mariani had known since childhood, and that "they ended up in Colombia for three days." He said he was uncertain when they left for their trip or why they had gone there.
John Mariani said his brother was single and one of three brothers. Another brother, Warren, 63, also lives in Floral Park.
Medellin, the country's second-largest city, is a far cry from the 1980s when it was headquarters for Pablo Escobar's feared Medellin cocaine cartel, and it has been experiencing a boom in tourism. The New York Times featured it as No. 11 on its list of 52 places to go in 2015, but the city remains a major center of crime.
With The Associated Press