Julian Romero Rodriguez was 21. He is dead now. Stabbed multiple times after resisting a mugging in the Condado, a tourist area. His girlfriend, Francheska Sampayo González, also 21 was stabbed but survived.
Many people will be quick to tell you that the murder rate in Puerto Rico is often just a count of the gang members and drug dealers killing each other. However, the two recent murders pushing into tourist regions indicates that the bloodiness is pouring into new territory.
I was told years ago by a police officer in Puerto Rico that the gangs and dealers know better than to move into the tourist areas. It was sort of a balance of power or an "understanding".
As these deaths and violent crimes continue, what you can antipate is not only the death of young men or women like Julian Romero, but also the death of tourism. Wealthy tourists have plenty of options in the Carribean to choose from. When they can feel much safer in Cuba or the Dominican Republic than in Puerto Rico... Puerto Rico has a real problem on its hands.
Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association's Director, Carlos Martinez, says they'll meet next week to "analyze the consequences of the two killings for the sector".
Carlos, forget the PR speak. You know what the consequences are. Remind your contacts in the government upper ranks and police authorities that a continued loss of tourism dollars will result in even further poverty, desperation, and crime for the island.
If you're keeping count, that is 345 dead this year, a full 85 more lives taken compared with last year... a 24.6% increase in murder!
At that rate, it won't be long before we hear about our next Sara Kuszak.