June 3, 2011 / 3:07 AM / 9 years ago

U.S. teenager mistakenly killed by Costa Rica hotel guard

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - A U.S. high school student was shot dead by a hotel security guard in Costa Rica on Thursday after being mistaken for a thief, police said.

Sixteen-year-old Justin Johnston was shot in the chest in the early hours of Thursday as he tried to sneak back into his room, breaking a night curfew on a school trip.

“It appears the hotel guard thought the guest was a thief,” police said in a statement.

The Kansas teenager was on the trip with 40 other students in the Central American nation, which is famed for its wildlife, rain forests and lava-spewing volcanoes.

Police said the guard, who has been detained, shouted at Johnston and another schoolmate as they tried to enter their hotel room, prompting them to run and for the guard to fire.

Costa Rica, which has no standing army, is one of Latin America’s safest vacation spots. Deaths of foreign tourists are more likely to be attributed to a heart attack, drowning or fall from a balcony.

Reporting by Alex Leff. Edited by Peter Bohan

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