from our partnerFaithwire
written byWill Maule
A suspected group of drug cartel gunmen opened fire on the Mormon LeBaron family as they traveled to a wedding in a three-car convoy, killing at least three women and six young children, including two infants. Reports indicate that some of the family members may have been burnt alive after the cars exploded amidst a hail of automatic gunfire.
According to USA Today, the victims were members of La Mora, a well-established Mormon settlement in Sonora and an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Relative Leah Staddon, who was previously part of the same Mormon community, said her brother discovered what was left of the vehicle still smoldering and riddled with bullets.
Footage posted to social media, believed to have been taken by the brother, shows one of the family’s cars blanketed with bullets holes and completely burnt out:
“This is for the record. Nita and four of my grandchildren are burnt, shot up,” the American man says, his voice cracking with emotion.
“Nita” is thought to be in reference to Rhonita Maria LeBaron, a mother who died alongside her children in the attack.
“It’s devastating,” Leah added. “It’s incomprehensible, the evil. I don’t understand how someone could do that.” Staddon added that her sister-in-law, nine children and a cousin with a baby had all been kidnapped.
Family member Alex LeBaron told CNN that three women and four small children, who were between the ages of 10 months and 14 years, “were massacred, burnt alive.”
“Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop,” he said. “We are a very tight knit community, we share everything that’s happening. We’ve been dealing with this tragedy since early yesterday. We share all information within our family groups.”
While there is no indication of motive at this point, it is thought that the cartel might have misidentified the convoy as a rival drug gang. The remote location of the attack, between Sonora and Chihuahua, has made it difficult for both Mexican and U.S. authorities to confirm details.
In a tweet posted overnight, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, said he was keeping a close eye on the situation.
“The security of our nationals is our top priority. I am following the situation in the mountains between Sonora and Chihuahua very closely,” he wrote in Spanish.
Faithwire has reached out to a family member for more information on the attack. This is a developing story. We will update as more information comes in. In the meantime, please do pray for this devastated family.