Left crumpled in the gutter after an ill-fated visit to a seedy club in a rough part of Mexico City, the grandson of murdered U.S. civil rights leader Malcolm X lay dying engulfed in the stench of sewage and a blaring cacophony of Mariachi music.
He was beaten to death early on Thursday morning, police say, in an ignominious end to a short, tormented life flecked with tragedy.
Malcolm Shabazz, who was convicted of manslaughter as a 12-year-old for setting a fire that killed his grandmother, was in Mexico City to visit Miguel Suarez, an immigration activist who was recently deported from the United States.
On Wednesday night, the pair visited the run-down area around Plaza Garibaldi, a popular tourist area where Mariachi music groups play on the streets amid seedy strip clubs, dive bars and bordellos.
Despite its proximity to the city’s grand colonial center, the area is infamous for petty crime.
Shabazz, who Mexican police say was 29, and Suarez strayed into Palace, a karaoke bar-cum-brothel away from the main drag. Police say they drank beer in the club and media reports said they then clashed with management over the bill.
The Mexican attorney general’s office has opened a murder investigation, saying Shabazz had been in “a place of entertainment, drinking beers” and that he suffered several injuries, apparently from blows.
Terrie Williams, a friend of the Shabazz family, said she had no details of the circumstances behind the death. She was unaware if his family, which Reuters was not immediately able to reach, had any details.
“This is a family that has experienced extraordinary trauma and pain over the years,” said Williams, who issued a brief statement on behalf of the Shabazz family following news of the death.
Efforts by Reuters to contact Miguel Suarez were not successful.