Officials in Mexico believe it may have been a case of mistaken identity after nine members of a prominent fundamentalist Mormon family were shot and torched to death in broad daylight by gunmen, suspected to be members of a drug cartel, Monday.
In a statement posted on Facebook, criminal investigators in northern Mexico said Tuesday that they arrested a suspect in connection with the brazen execution of three women and six children from the LeBarón family who were ambushed in their vehicles.
The Agency for Criminal Investigation for the state of Sonora said the suspect was found in the town of Agua Prieta, close to Arizona’s border, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a white pickup truck, USA Today noted from a translation of the statement. The suspect was also found in possession of four assault rifles, ammunition and various large vehicles, including a bullet-proofed SUV. One of the vehicles was connected to a robbery in Phoenix, Arizona.
Officials noted that the gunmen might have mistaken the large SUV the family was traveling in for those of a rival gang.
“These acts in which women and children lost their lives makes it clear that we need a collaboration and a union of forces,” the statement said. “Criminality should be analyzed and combatted, not only in local protest, but also regional, national and transnational.”
Citing interviews with two family members, El Universal said the events began unfolding at about 9:30 a.m. Monday when the three women, identified by other family members as Rhonita Miller, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, along with their 14 children left Bavispe, Sonora to visit family elsewhere in Mexico and the U.S.
In a statement on Facebook Tuesday, family member Tiffany Langford identified the dead and shared harrowing accounts of the attack according to children who survived.
“We lost 9 today. Right now we are waiting, for the morning, for answers, for justice,” Langford said.
Rhonita Maria Miller, 30, was fatally shot and torched in her vehicle along with her children. They are: Howard Jacob Miller, Jr., 12; Krystal Bellaine Miller, 10; and 8-month-old twins Titus Alvin Miller and Tiana Gricel Miller.
They were “all shot and burned in their vehicle. Only ashes and a few bones remain,” Langford said.
Rhonita is survived by her husband, Howard Jacob Miller Sr., who was in North Dakota at the time of the attack. as well as her three other children — Tristan, Amaryllis, and Zack, who were being cared for by their grandparents in La Mora.
Christina Marie Langford Johnson was shot dead 19 days short of her 32nd birthday. She is survived by her 7-month-old daughter, Faith Marie Johnson, who was found in her car seat on the floor of her mother’s vehicle. It appears her mother placed her there for protection.
Dawna, 43, was shot dead along with her children, Trevor Harvey Langford, 11 and Rogan Jay Langford, 2.5. She has seven other children who survived the attack, ranging from 4 months old to 14 years old.
Tiffany explained that two of the mothers were traveling to Chihuahua to see family while one of them was heading to Phoenix, Arizona, to pick up her husband from the airport.
“They never made it. 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,” Tiffany wrote.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair