Less than a week before her death, Tatiana Mirutenko posted a trio of photos from her wedding to Instagram: “Year 1,” she wrote, adding a heart under the images of her and her husband.
Soon afterward, the couple would travel from their home in California to Mexico City for what was supposed to be a celebration of their first wedding anniversary, Mirutenko’s family told ABC 7 News.
Instead, the trip ended in tragedy after Mirutenko was killed early Saturday morning in an apparent drive-by shooting in Lomas de Chapultepec, a wealthy neighborhood in the Mexican capital better known for its mix of Colonial and modern-style mansions than for violence.
The U.S. State Department confirmed Mirutenko's death in Mexico City and her nationality but did not provide details of the incident.
“We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family members of the deceased,” department spokesman Noel Clay said in an email. “The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is providing all appropriate consular services to her family. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
Mexican authorities said Mirutenko, 27, was leaving a taco restaurant in Lomas de Chapultepec with her husband and two friends when she was struck by a stray bullet fired by gunmen on a passing motorcycle, the Associated Press reported.
Mexican officials said the intended target had been a local bouncer, who was also struck but survived, the AP reported.
The shooting has devastated Mirutenko’s family and friends.
“A year ago, we were selecting flowers for the wedding,” Wasyl Mirutenko, her father, told ABC 7 News on Monday. “Today we were looking at flowers for the funeral.”
Her mother, Natalie Mirutenko, told the news station that her daughter had just recently told her “how wonderful, how safe it was” in Mexico City.
“She would give 200 percent,” Mirutenko told the news station. “As a mother, we always say things, but she inspired me to be better. I’d give my life if she could just come back.”
This year, the State Department rolled out a new tiered travel advisory system to warn U.S. citizens of potential dangers while traveling abroad. Now, travel advisories range from Level 1 (“exercise normal precautions”) to Level 4 (“do not travel”).
Unlike regions in Mexico that had Level 3 or 4 warnings, the State Department has assigned a Level 2 advisory (“exercise increased caution”) to Mexico City “due to crime.” The department has placed no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees in Mexico City.
Other destinations in Mexico, once assumed to be wholly safe for tourists, have been the subject of warnings in recent months.
In March, the State Department issued a security alert for Playa del Carmen, a popular Mexican resort city on the Caribbean coast, saying the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City had received “credible information” about a threat to the city.
The advisory for Playa del Carmen came about two weeks after an explosion on a tourist ferry in Playa del Carmen injured 26 people, including at least five U.S. citizens. Later, undetonated explosives were discovered on another ferry that, like the first, shuttled tourists between Playa del Carmen and nearby Cozumel island.
The Playa del Carmen advisory was removed about two weeks later.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Mirutenko graduated from Clemson University in 2013 and was working on the investor relations team at Nektar Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company based in San Francisco.
In a statement to The Washington Post, the company described Mirutenko as a “bright and passionate rising star” who had worked there for about 2½ years.
“It is with very heavy hearts that we received the devastating news about our Nektar team member and colleague Tatiana Mirutenko,” Nektar Vice President Jennifer Ruddock said. “She was always willing to help on any project across the company and had an incredibly strong work ethic. Many throughout Nektar, and outside the company, valued her positive energy, insight and sheer enthusiasm for life. She will be incredibly missed by all of us at Nektar Therapeutics.”