A dual citizenship Mormon family of nine was brutally murdered and burned alive on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border. Police say the attack may have been due to an identity mix-up.
The victims include three women, four small children and two infants, family member Alex LeBaron said from Mexico. All nine were dual US-Mexican citizens, he added. The victims were “all shot while in vehicles while driving,” LeBaron told CNN. However, several children survived the attack.
Criminal groups reportedly ambushed the family while they were driving in three vehicles between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua. “Women and children were massacred, burned alive,” LeBaron said. “Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop.” Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity of “conflicting groups in the area.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
However, relatives of the victims who survived said the gunmen knew they were shooting regular civilians. “There’s been a lot of rival cartels fighting up in this area,” said Lenzo Widmar, one of the community members who found two of the destroyed vehicles. Widmar said a child who witnessed one of the shootings saw one of the mothers exit her car and put her hands up. “They shot her anyway,” Widmar said. “They knew it was women and children.”
On Tuesday, Donald Trump responded to the murders, saying that “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. 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,” Trump wrote, adding, “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!” As he continued, he said that he was willing to offer help to “wage WAR on the drug cartels” in the country. “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!” Trump added.
According to reports, Lopez and Trump had a conversation about assisting Mexico. However, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined Trump’s offer and said Mexican officials would handle the case. “This is a matter of our sovereignty,” he said.
In the meantime, Trump made clear that the United States condemns these senseless acts of violence that took the lives of nine American citizens” in the call, and offered help to “ensure the perpetrators face justice,” the White House said in a statement. “The two leaders also discussed ongoing border cooperation and the strong bilateral ties between the United States and Mexico,” the White House added.