The victims were members of a Mormon sect that had lived in the Mexican border state of Sonora for over 50 years, The Daily Beast reports. Many of the victims also had dual Mexican-American citizenship. Some of the victims were traveling to Arizona, while others were seeing relatives in another Mormon community in Chihuahua when they were caught in the gunfire.
Authorities believe they were either caught in the crossfire of warring drug cartels or attacked due to a case of mistaken identity. Reports also indicate that a victim’s brother was killed last year as revenge for speaking against drug cartel kidnappings for ransom.
A relative of the victims, Kendra Lee Miller, told the outlet the “first vehicle was found full of bullet holes and completely ablaze.” She alleged that the women and children were “not caught in crossfire between two cartels, they were ambushed by one cartel from Mexico.”
The Associated Press previously reported that the Mexican Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said the gunmen might have mistaken the SUVs for rival gangs. He added that six children were injured during the incident, five of whom had been sent to American hospitals in Phoenix. Troops are looking for the sixth child, who is still missing.
One of the kids, 13-year-old Devin Langford hid with his siblings in the bushes to keep them safe before going for help. He was uninjured and was able to walk 14 miles to La Mora, Mexico, where his family lives.
“They never made it,” Miller said, speaking of the three mothers and 14 children who were traveling in three SUVs to their respective destinations. “They were ambushed by the Mexican cartels—shot, burned, and murdered in cold blood. These were innocent civilians, American citizens simply trying to live peaceful lives.”
Trump, of course, proved once again that he doesn’t read the news and shared his off-base thoughts about the situation via Twitter. He wrote that “a wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels,” adding that, “the United States stands ready, willing, and able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rejected Trump’s proposal during a press conference on Tuesday, saying, “it is not in agreement with our convictions,” but that he planned on calling Trump to discuss the situation.