At least three American mothers and six children from a Mormon family were killed in a shooting in the Mexican border state of Sonora on Monday in an attack blamed on drug cartel gunmen.
Seventeen family members from the LeBaron and Langford families were ‘ambushed’ eight miles apart while heading to celebrate a wedding anniversary in three cars from La Mora – a decades-old settlement founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In horrific scenes, gunmen opened fire on one child running away before torching a car as family members burnt to death while trapped inside. Other young children managed to escape and hid by the roadside while a mother was shot in the chest as she put her hands up to surrender.
Relatives fear some of the victims may have been raped.
A relative said a boy concealed his wounded siblings – some less than a year old – in bushes before he ran back to the nearby town to get help after his mother was gunned down.
One of the woman shot dead was Christina Langford, 29, who saved her seven-month-old baby’s life by throwing her to the floor of their SUV as bullets tore through the vehicle.
The motive for the attack is not yet clear, although it is possible it was an attempted kidnapping. A family member reported receiving a phone call hearing screams before a killer executed them.
The religious group has had previous run-ins with organized crime cartel in the area, including one member being killed. However one family member they believe it was mistaken identity.
In last night’s massacre, Rhonita Maria LeBaron was traveling to Phoenix when her car broke down, according to relatives.
Gunmen opened fire and torched her vehicle causing the gas tank to explode where she died along with her twin six-month-old babies, Titus and Tiana and two more of her children Krystal, 10, and Howard, 12.
Eight miles ahead, Christina Langford Johnson, 29 , Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and two of Dawna’s children, Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, were also killed in other SUVs. Other family members are still unaccounted for.
Christina’s seven-month-old baby Faith was found alive on the floor in the backseat and seven of Dawna’s children escaped with bullet holes riddled throughout their bodies, according to relatives.