CULIACAN, Mexico — A man charged with brutally beating a Canadian tourist at a luxury beach hotel told reporters Saturday that he tried to hold the woman in an elevator and punched her several times in the face when she cried for help.
Police presented Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, 28, to local and foreign journalists in the Pacific port city of Mazatlan, where the attack on Sheila Nabb of Calgary, Alberta, occurred in the early hours of Jan. 20.
He was arrested Friday and charged with attempted murder. Prosecutors have said investigators were led to Acosta by a hotel security video that showed him leaving the elevator where Nabb was attacked.
Sinaloa State Prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said Saturday that Acosta was drinking in local bars and had taken cocaine with a Canadian friend when they decided to go to one of the large tourist hotels where bars operate 24 hours. He said Acosta frequents those hotels and sometimes goes by the name "Ray."
Flanked by police, Acosta spoke in fluent English as he answered a few questions from foreign reporters. He said he entered the hotel from the back beach doorway and was taking an elevator up to the roof when the doors opened and Nabb got in. They talked and then he put his hand on the door, he said, to prevent her from leaving so they could keep talking.
"She got afraid when I didn't let her out and she started yelling, 'He won't let me out,'" Acosta said. "I got afraid also, because she's a North American and I'm Mexican and I wasn't supposed to be in the hotel."
He said he covered her mouth as she continued to yell for help.
"Then I hit her four or five times in the face with my fist and then I left," said Acosta, who swallowed nervously as he talked.
Nabb's husband was in their hotel room at the time of the attack and she was found lying in the elevator and bleeding heavily.
She was flown to Canada, and Canadian media have reported that she remains hospitalized with major injuries to her face and jaw.
"Yeah, I did it. I did, but it wasn't planned or anything like that," Acosta said in a soft voice. "I didn't try to abuse her, or I didn't try to kill her or anything or rob her."
Acosta said police had shown him a security camera video of him leaving the elevator, but he denied it showed him kicking Nabb. He said that possibly he was using his foot to move her hand out of the door so it would close.
Higuera has said Acosta had Nabb's blood on his shoes when he was arrested.