Carilion medical director, Southwest Virginia cardiologist murdered in Belize

Photo from Carilion Clinic
Photo from Carilion Clinic(WDBJ)
Published: Jun. 24, 2019 at 3:25 PM EDT
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Carilion Clinic cardiologist Dr. Gary Swank was found murdered in Belize. According to Carilion Clinic, Dr. Swank was murdered along with his tour guide while out in Belize on Sunday.

"We are heartbroken at his loss," said Carilion Clinic Spokesperson Chris Turnbull in a statement Monday. "Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear."

Swank was an interventional cardiologist, medical director of Carilion Clinic's Cardiac Catheterization Lab, and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke.

Colleagues of Dr. Swank tell WDBJ7 Swank loved to fish and he was vacationing with his wife and three children in Belize.

In a police report obtained by WDBJ from News5 Belize, at 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the San Pedro Police responded to a report in an area about one mile west of San Pedro. There they found the body of 53-year-old Mario Graniel inside a purple and black skiff. They also discovered the body of 53-year-old Swank about 30 feet away in the lagoon, both with multiple gunshot wounds.

Graniel was a tour guide in the Boca del Rio area of San Pedro. The two had gone fly fishing within the San Pedro lagoon around 10 am that morning, according to the Belize City Police report.

News5 Belize also reported that just one day before the murders, shots were fired outside of Graniel's home damaging his front door. According to News 5, Graniel was inside his room on a second-floor apartment in the Boca del Rio area when he heard shots fired. Police responded to reports of shots fired and found a bullet hole on the top of Graniel's door but were not able to find a suspect.

The bodies of both Graniel and Swank were taken to the medical examiner in the region and the investigation is continuing according to Belize City Police.

A Level 2 travel advisory had been issued by the U.S. State Department in January for Americans traveling to Belize asking tourists to exercise increased caution due to crime.