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Mexico kidnap survivor Eric Williams saw friends killed ‘in front of him’: cousin

LAKE CITY, S.C. – A relative of Mexico kidnapping survivor Eric James Williams confirmed he is out of surgery and “talking”– but said the father of one is struggling after seeing his friends “killed right in front of him.”

Williams, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was one of four Americans kidnapped during a cartel shootout in broad daylight in the border city of Matamoros on March 3.

Four days later on Tuesday, Williams, 38, and Latavia “Tay” McGee, 35, were found in a shack in a rural area east of Matamoros and were rushed to a medical center in Brownsville, Texas.

Their two other friends, Shaeed Woodard, 33, and Zindell Brown, in his mid-20s, were found dead.

Williams’ mother Sylvia, who still lives in the Lake City home where her son grew up, declined to speak to reporters Wednesday morning but the man’s cousin told The Post he was out of surgery.

Williams was shot in the left leg during the ordeal.

Eric James Williams was injured when he and three friends were kidnapped in Mexico.
Family Handout

“He’s talking strong and everything. He [is] doing better than what he was,” Williams’ older cousin Jerry Wallace said.

However, Wallace couldn’t confirm what kind of operation his cousin underwent or whether he had been interviewed by authorities since his rescue.

“He’s just upset about his friend getting killed right in front of him – which anybody else would be with the stuff he went through,” Wallace continued.

When asked if it made sense that Williams, who had never left the country before, would accompany McGee to Mexico so she could undergo a tummy tuck operation, Wallace said the errand was typical of his younger cousin’s attitude.

“He’s a tight friend. If you’re a friend, he’s a friend,” he explained. 

A blurred image of Eric Williams on the floor of a small building.
Williams was found crumpled on a dirty floor.

Wallace said that Williams, McGee, Woodard and Brown “all growed up together,” but bristled when asked about Woodard’s extensive rap sheet, which included drug offenses.

Wallace, who also lives in Winston-Salem, said that Williams met up with the other three in North Carolina before continuing their journey to the border.

“We didn’t find out…until Sunday that he was even in [Mexico],” he recalled, noting that Williams’ wife, Michelle, called Sylvia with the news.

The scene of the kidnapping.
The foursome was confronted by alleged cartel members in Matamoros on March 3.

Wallace guessed that Williams would return to North Carolina after his recovery.

“They got a kid together,” he said of the life his cousin built with his wife away from his hometown.

Wallace’s updates on Williams’ condition come shortly after Zindell Brown’s sister shared her brother’s hesitancy over the trip that ultimately cost him his life.

Jeremy Wallace
Jeremy Wallace speaks from Williams’ childhood home.
Haley Brown

Investigators at the scene where the group was found on Tuesday.
Both Williams and McGee were transferred to Texas for medical care.

“Zindell kept saying, ‘We shouldn’t go down,’” Zalandria Brown told The Associated Press.

As of Wednesday afternoon, one person has been arrested in connection with the brutal kidnapping. 

Jose Guadalupe N., a 24-year-old Mexican national, guarded the house where the foursome was allegedly held captive and tortured by cartel members.

Authorities have not confirmed whether he is affiliated with the region’s infamous Gulf Cartel.

A photo of Williams from the moment the group was discovered shows him crumpled and in pain on a dirty floor.

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