Kirk Wilson did not lose many battles.
One of the victims of a shooting in Mexico early Monday, he had dodged so many bullets in the past, it was shocking to those who loved and respected him that he would ever be felled by one.
Wilson was identified in several Mexican reports as one of five people killed when gunfire broke out at the crowded beachfront Blue Parrot nightclub — in the coastal resort town of Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun — as it throbbed with electronic music.
A friend said Wilson, 49, was working security at the annual BPM Festival and was one of several people from the Toronto area lending a hand to the festival’s Canadian organizers.
While Mexican authorities said two Canadians were among the five dead, Global Affairs Canada confirmed one Canadian death and was working to verify whether there was a second. Federal officials say at least two other Canadians were wounded.
But this wasn’t the first shooting scene for Wilson — Toronto’s most famous doorman, known as “Kirk with the dreads.”
“He had been around many shootings in the past which is part of being a security guy,” said friend Neil Forester, who sometimes hired him for shows he was promoting. “I was with him three different times when there were shootings and he was always so calm about it when it happened.”
Forester said he was with him on three different occasions when gunfire rang out.
“It’s very scary but Kirk was the whole time calm and professional,” said Forester. “He always knew what to do.”
The great irony of the death of the 6-foot-5 “gentle giant” of a man is there were so many times over 25 years where he protected many from suffering a similar fate.
“Kirk saved countless lives,” said Forester. “It is so sad that he lost his own.”
Security guru to the stars, Greg “Rocket” Leavers, said Wilson’s skill and professionalism were respected by celebrities and peers alike around the world.
“He was such a professional who was revered,” said Rocket. “He had so much experience which is why he and some others from Toronto were recruited to go down to Mexico to work the club scene on a contract for the winter.”
But in the protection game, you just never know what you will be faced with.
“You can have all the experience in the world, it’s not going to out match a person with a gun and the bullets that come from it,” said Rocket.
At Ink Entertainment, which often hired Wilson, the mood was sombre at losing one of their own.
“Obviously we are devastated,” said pubic relations director Elaine Quan.
Wilson was Toronto-raised but had settled down with his wife and two kids in Hamilton. He took the gig in Mexico to provide for his family.
There was never anything safe or easy about Kirk’s job.
“He had great finesse,” said Forester.
He never wanted trouble. But with his size and strength and toughness, Kirk was your man if a situation escalated.
Sadly, there’s little any flesh-and-blood human can do to outsmart a bullet.
In Mexico, State Attorney General Miguel Angel Pech ruled out any terror attack, but said the shooting erupted when festival security personnel tried to stop a man from entering the club with a gun.
—With files from the Canadian Press and Associated Press