|TorontoSun.com - A trip to the Dominican Republic by two friends turned into a nightmare when John Gagne, 41, of Quebec City, was murdered in his bed in a small private villa on Dec. 30 during an apparent robbery, according to Gagne's travelling partner.
The friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, was tied up and robbed by two men before hearing the gunshots that killed Gagne in the room next door.
"I was afraid of my life," his friend told the Journal de Montreal.
The two men had decided on a whim to go to Sosua, on the north coast just west of Puerto Plata, a few days before Christmas. They were received in a small private house owned by another Quebecer.
The house was enclosed by a 12-foot fence and protected by a security guard.
"We had planned to scuba diving the next day and go celebrate the new year with other Quebecers in Cabarete," said the friend.
But around 2 a.m., he was awakened by two men he believes were Dominican, who tied him up and took his wallet, credit cards, money and his cellphone.
He was struck with the gun once, while the thieves demanded his PIN, but then left the room with him still tied to the bed.
A few minutes later he heard two gunshots from the next room.
"I lost my best friend. It is a terrible incident. I never thought he could die in such circumstances, " said the friend, who had traveled with Gagne in the past, particularly in China.
He told the Journal that two men – one of them a security guard at the villa-hotel – have been charged with murder, but authorities on the island have yet to comment.
Gagne's friend said he will stay a few days in the Dominican Republic to ensure the repatriation of Gagne's body.
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The murder was a plot by the security guard who was supposed to protect the villa. He has now been arrested together with two Haitian prostitutes.
Gagné had been shot in the heart, while a private security guard was shot in the leg.
A Dominican news report shows blood smeared and spattered on the floor of the villa.
The security guard was arrested, as well as two Haitian women who were with Gagné and Tremblay, said Col. Nelson Eddy Araujo ofDominican National Police.
The guard was involved in a plot to rob the pair and was promised a share of the takings if he let the robbers in, Araujo said.
Araujo denied local media reports that the security guard shot Gagné, before shooting himself in the leg to cover his tracks. He said another man pulled the trigger and police are still trying to track him down.
Araujo would not confirm reports the two women were prostitutes.
One witness said one of the women left the door to the villa open.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Department said consular officials on the island country are gathering details from local authorities.
The Foreign Affairs website warns travellers that the crime rate has increased in the Dominican Republic and that precautions should be taken. The U.S. State Department also warns the Caribbean island is dangerous and armed criminals may use force if they meet resistance.
Montreal travel agent Nora Chamass said she warns her clients that cheap deals to the Dominican Republic can be risky.
"I push them really to not go there," Chamass said. "I explain … to be aware what they’re taking or where they’re going."