'Well-loved' American heart doctor gunned down on vacation in Belize along with tour guide

American Heart Doctor and Tour Guide Gunned Down in Belize

SAN PEDRO, Belize — The bodies of an American cardiologist from Virginia and his tour guide were found in Belize Sunday, dead from gunshot wounds.

Gary Swank, 53, who was in the country fly fishing, was found floating face down in a lagoon in San Pedro along with his guide, Marion Nestle Graniel, also 53.

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Swank, who worked for the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, was also an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Authorities said Swank and Graniel were fishing at the San Pedro town lagoon when a skiff passed by and opened fire on their boat, Carilion Clinic officials said in a social media post.

“We are heartbroken at his loss. Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear. His absence leaves a void in our team and in our community,” the clinic said in its statement on Swank’s death.

Belize authorities are continuing their investigation into the deaths of Swank and Graniel.

The U.S. State Department increased its travel advisory for Belize earlier this year to a Level 2, meaning tourists should exercise increased caution and remain vigilant to "heightened risks to safety and security." The agency said it raised the travel alert for Belize because of violent crime, including "sexual assault, home invasions, armed robberies and murder."