At least nine Americans, including three mothers and their seven young children, were fatally shot in an ambush in Sonora, Mexico, on Monday, NBC News reported. Another dozen family members remain missing, family members say.
The victims, who possessed dual-citizenship and lived in a Mormon community in the state of Sonora, were traveling by motorcade near Rancho LaMora on the border between Sonora and Chihuahua, when the three vehicles the party were riding in were attacked by gunfire. One vehicle reportedly exploded into flames after a bullet hit the gas tank, the Mexican newspaper El Diario reported.
The victims included 8-month-old twins, according to social media posts by a family member. Another eight children in the motorcade were injured in the shooting, some seriously, including a nine-month-old that was shot in the chest.
The victims were members of La Mora, a Mormon settlement in the Mexican state of Sonora that located about 70 miles south of Douglas, Azrizona. Leah Staddon, a relative of the victims, posted on Facebook that her nephew's wife and her four children were among the victims. Staddon said her brother discovered the bullet-ridden vehicle that was still smoldering, and shot video of the charred bodies inside as evidence.
Kendra Lee Miller, a family member who posted about the incident on Facebook wrote that one of the teenagers worked to hide his six siblings in the bushes and keep them safe while he walked back 14 miles to LaMora for help. McKenzie Langford, 9, also went to look for help after Devin left and did not come back. She got lost and was eventually found by soldiers in the area.
The victims were identified by Miller as:
- Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29
- Dawna Langford, 43
- Trevor Langford, 11
- Rogan Langford, 2.5
- Rhonita Miller, 30
- Howard Miller, 12
- Krystal Miller, 10
- Twins Titus and Tiana Miller, 8.5 months
Miller wrote that all of the victims had been shot and burned in their vehicle.
There was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the attack, however, in her Facebook post Langford pointed to violence that had erupted between Mexican cartels in Sonora in recent weeks.
President Donald Trump reacted to the news of the ambush on Tuesday, writing on Twitter that the U.S. was "ready, willing and able" to help Mexico if they want assistance.
"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," Trump tweeted. "If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!"