The family of Dr. Gary Swank – a cardiologist at Carilion Clinic and professor at Virginia Tech-Carilion – released a statement Tuesday afternoon, two days after he was found shot to death in Belize:
We are heartbroken at the loss of our incredible husband and devoted father Gary Swank, M.D., who we will forever cherish. His senseless murder has left us to mourn a purposeful life ended too soon.
Gary was an incredibly driven individual, both professionally and personally, and we were blessed to have been a part of his life. His death will be felt throughout the community, as he was a physician, caregiver, teacher, mentor, avid outdoorsman, neighbor, colleague, and friend to many.
We are grateful for the overwhelming love shown by family, friends, patients and strangers. For the countless prayers, flowers, and phone calls – thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
As we take time to grieve this unbelievable loss, we will not be doing any media interviews. Please respect our privacy during this difficult time.
Belizian investigators say his tour guide, Mario Graniel, had his home “shot up” by gang members Friday.
Days later, Graniel and Doctor Gary Swank were gunned down while fly fishing Sunday.
San Pedro police say they have detained multiple people in connection to the case, but at this point, no one has been charged with either murder.
“Well, the person we are looking for – from what we have gathered – is no longer on the island,” said Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams.
Williams says his department is working with the United States and recognizes this case’s international importance.
“We are not yet where we want to be, but I’m sure with time we will get where we want to be,” he said.
Several American politicians offering their condolences, including Senators Kaine and Warner, and Congressman Ben Cline, who says in part, “My office stands ready to assist Dr. Swank’s family in the coming days.”
The U.S. Department of State currently has a level 2 travel advisory to Belize, due to violent crime in the area.