Six children and three women living in a faith-based community of U.S. citizens in Mexico were shot to death Monday in the northern part of the country, and six more children were wounded after their convoy came under fire during a brazen daylight ambush believed to have been carried out by gunmen affiliated with the cartels.
All the victims are believed to be members of the extended LeBaron family, who live in a religious community in La Mora, northern Mexico, a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around 70 miles south of Douglas, Ariz.
Mexican officials say a drug cartel was behind the attack, though it’s not clear whether the family members were the intended targets or the victims of mistaken identity.
Here’s what we know so far about the attack.
On the morning of November 4th, 2019, three mothers in three vehicles, with fourteen children between them, set out from LaMora, a small family community in the mountains of northeastern Sonora. Two of them to see family in Chihuahua, and one of them to pick up her husband from the airport in Phoenix, AZ. 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.
For 11 hours, their families all over Sonora, Chihuahua, and the Midwestern US waited in fear and horror for any news of possible survivors. The first vehicle was found full of bullet holes and completely ablaze. Nita and the four of her seven children she had taken on the trip were burned to mostly ashes and only a few charred bones left to identify that all five had been inside. It appeared that one tried to escape as the front passenger door was open and the remains were partially in and out of the vehicle.
On another part of the road, about 10 miles ahead, were Christina, with her baby Faith in her vehicle, and Dawna with nine children in hers. They both were fired upon from ahead and Christina jumped out waving her arms to let the attackers know that it was women and children in the vehicles. She gave her life to try and save the rest. Dawna and two of her boys were also killed in the gunfire.
After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Dawna’s son Devin hid his 6 other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help. When he took too long to return, his 9 year old sister left the remaining five to try again. Devin arrived in LaMora at 5:30 pm, 6 hours after the ambush, giving the first news anyone had heard of his and Christina’s families.
Devin’s uncles armed themselves with guns and returned to try and find the hidden children, knowing many of them were injured. They didn’t get far before realizing they would be risking death, since there had been continual shooting for hours, all over the mountains near LaMora. The group of men waited a while for reinforcements, and around 7:30, found the hidden children. They found Christina’s baby Faith with the vehicle around her riddled with bullet holes. Somehow she had remained untouched, and alive. She was in her car seat, which looked to have been hurriedly placed on the floor of the vehicle by her mother for protection.
The search didn’t end there. Mckenzie, the 9 year old who’d gone for help, was missing. Soldiers who’d by then arrived, and the men of LaMora and nearby towns searched for two hours in the dark until they found her around 9:30.
The five of Dawna’s children who were injured were picked up by a waiting ambulance and treated at the local hospital until a helicopter sent by Mexican military came to pick them up. Their father David who had by then arrived from Tucson, Arizona, accompanied them to be life flighted to another helicopter waiting at the US border, from there to be transported to Phoenix.
Devin, his brother Jake, and Christina’s baby Faith, all uninjured, are now in the care of their aunts and grandmas in LaMora.
We lost 9 today. Right now we are waiting, for the morning, for answers, for justice.
Rhonita Maria Miller September 15, 1989, 30 yrs
Howard Jacob Miller, Jr. July 12, 2007, 12 yrs
Krystal Bellaine Miller, September 25, 2009 10 yrs
Titus Alvin Miller, March 13, 2019 – 8 months
Tiana Gricel Miller, March 13, 2019 – 8 months
All shot and burned in their vehicle. Only ashes and a few bones remain.
Father/husband is Howard Sr, who was in North Dakota at the time of attack. The three siblings left behind in LaMora being babysat at the Miller grandparents: Tristan, Amaryllis, and Zack.
Christina Marie Langford Johnson – November 23, 1987, shot dead, 19 days away from 32 years
Faith Marie Johnson April 9, 2019, 7 months old – was found in her car seat that seemed to be put on the floor, by her mother to try and protect her, uninjured,
Dawna Ray Langford, June 19, 1976, 43 years
Trevor Harvey Langford April 4, 2008 11 years old,
Rogan Jay Langford, February 17, 2017 2.5 years old
All shot to death
Kylie Evelyn Langford, March 8 2005, 14 years – shot in the foot
Devin Blake Langford, July 6 2006, 13 years – uninjured, walked approximately 14 miles to LaMora to get help, after hiding his bleeding but living siblings in the bushes, and covering them with branches
Mckenzie Rayne Langford, January 12 2010, – 9 years – grazed on her arm- sent by her sister Kylie for help when Devin didn’t return soon enough, got lost, and walked approximately 10 miles, for about 4 hours in the dark before she was found by the search parties
Cody Greyson Langford, October 1 2011, 8 years- shot in the jaw, and the leg, his condition was worrying, but at last word, not critical
Jake Ryder Langford, May 22 2013, 6 – uninjured
Xander Boe Langford, June 4 2015, 4 – shot in the back
Brixon Oliver Langford, February 15th 2019, almost 9 months – shot in the chest, open flesh wound, bullet graze on wrist
Video shared on Facebook shows one of the SUVs riddled with bullet holes and still smoldering. A man’s voice can be heard saying, “This is for the record. Nita and four of my grandchildren are burnt and shot up.”
Trump Responded with a series of tweets: