At least nine Americans have been killed in Mexico and authorities believed it happened at the hands of Mexican drug cartel members.
USA Today reports that the victims were part of a faith group who lived in Sonora, an established faith-based city in Mexico, around 70 miles from Douglas, Arizona. The attack happened while they were driving to a wedding in LeBaron, Mexico.
Reports indicate that one of the victims pulled over with a flat tire, and when family members in another vehicle stopped to help, they were all attacked.
According to police, the suspects ambushed the group and opened fire close to Rancho La Mora, which lies on the border of Sonora and Chihuahua. When bullets hit the SUV and convoy the group had been traveling in, the vehicles burst into flames.
The victims were dual Mexican and U.S. citizens. They were trying to travel back to the U.S. when the attack happened.
The victims have been identified as mother Rhonita Maria LeBaron (pictured with her family) and her children, which included infant twins, an 8-year-old, and a 10-year-old.
Around eight miles away, more victims were shot. Some died while some survived. The deceased victims include:
- Dawna Ray Langford, 43
- Christina Marie Langford, 31
- Trevor Langford, 11
- Noah Langford, 3
This is Christina Langford Johnson & her baby Faith and the other pic is Dawna Ray Langford, her husband David, 12 of 13…
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that one child was shot down while trying to run away. An infant, identified as 7-month-old Faith Marie Johnson, survived the incident, along with 8-month-old Brixon Oliver Langford, who was shot in the chest.
Other survivors include 14-year-old Kylie Evelyn Langford, who was shot in the foot, and 13-year-old Devin Blake Langford, who reportedly walked around 14 miles to get help.
Mckenzie Rayne Langford, 9, also survived the incident after a bullet grazed his arm. Cody Greyson Langford, 8, was reportedly shot in the jaw and leg. He’s in critical condition, according to family members.
Additional survivors include Xander Boe Langford, 4, who was shot in the back, and Jake Ryder Langford, 6, who was uninjured.
“Six little kids were killed and seven made it out alive,” family member Julian LeBaron said in a phone interview with The New York Times.
LeBaron added that the death toll could grow higher.
Family members reportedly said that cartel members kidnapped some of the surviving church members. One of the kidnapped victims’ family members received a call and heard a woman screaming while men spoke over her loudly.
The gunmen may have been members of a Chihuahua cartel who invaded another cartel’s territory.
Sen. Mitt Romney offered his sympathy and condolences when he heard about the tragedy.
“Ann and I are heartbroken for the victims of the horrific attacks in Mexico,” Romney wrote. “Our prayers are with their families who have suffered such an unspeakable tragedy. The U.S. must work with Mexican officials to hold accountable those responsible for this senseless violence.”
President Trump took to Twitter and wrote that it’s time to “wage war” on the drug cartels.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president! The cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”
Claudia Pavlovich Arellano, the governor of the state of Sonora, vowed to help catch the “monsters” responsible for the attack.
It’s unclear whether the killings were intentional or a case of mistaken identity.
The family members were Mormons, but part of a polygamous spin-off of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The story is developing. Check back for further updates.
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[Feature Photo: Rhonita Maria LeBaron and family/Facebook]
*Editor’s Note*: Previous reports indicated that the family was traveling back from a wedding when the incident occurred. Updated information reflects that the family had been on their way to a wedding when they were killed.