Warning: Very disturbing story including violence, assualt, murder and children
At least 9 members of a prominent Mormon family – three mothers and their young children – were killed in a shooting attack. 12 family members remain missing.
The motive for the attack remains unclear. Some relatives have posted on Facebook that is was a case of mistaken identity while several news outlets are reporting it was a targeted attack.
The victims were U.S. citizens and members of La Mora which is a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s located about 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona.
Seventeen members of the LeBaron and Langford families were on their way to a wedding celebration in three cars when gunmen sprayed their vehicles with bullets.
The Sun reported that It’s now feared some of the victims, including infants may have been burned alive and relatives are reported to believe some of the female victims were raped during the attack.
Alex LeBaron, who says he lost family members in the attack, told CNN: “Women and children were massacred, burnt alive. Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop.”
Several family members have now told how gunmen opened fire on one child running away and revealed how others burned to death inside a car that was torched.
Other young children managed to escape and hide by the roadside while one of the mothers was shot in the chest as she put her hands up to surrender.
The mothers were driving from Bavispe to a wedding in LaBaron, another Mormon community in the state of Chihuahua, when their three vehicles loaded with children were attacked by gunfire, causing one of the vehicles to explode in flames.
USA Today reported Leah Staddon, a relative who grew up in the same Mormon community before moving to Arizona, said her nephew’s wife and her four children died in the blaze.
“It’s devastating,” Staddon said. “It’s incomprehensible, the evil. I don’t understand how someone could do that.”
The attack happened near Rancho La Mora on the border between Sonora and Chihuahua, the Mexican newspaper El Diario reported.
The vehicle exploded when bullets hit the gas tank, the newspaper said.
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Another relative, Julián LeBaron, said on his Facebook page the dead woman was Rhonita María LeBaron.
Staddon gave her name as Rhonita Miller, 33. She said Miller’s four children who died inside the car were ages 8, 10 and 4-month-old twins, a boy and a girl.
Staddon said a sister-in-law, nine children and a cousin with a baby traveling in two separate vehicles had been kidnapped.
Staddon posted a message on Facebook pleading for help from U.S. authorities to find her missing relatives after family in Mexico told her what had happened.
“They are doing all they can in Mexico and we need America’s help,” Staddon posted. “Please help get the word out. We need to get them all back home safe also do not travel to Mexico! The mafia over Sonora and the mafia over chihuahua are in all out war right now!!!”
The ongoing investigation involves municipal and state police, the state attorney general’s office, the army and the National Guard, which had launched an air and land operation in the area where the incident occurred, according to a written statement provided to The Arizona Republic.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the attack Tuesday morning offering the Mexican president U.S. help “to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.”
A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing. If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
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