Douglas Fire Department paramedics received and helped transport survivors of an attack on American citizens in the northern Mexican state of Sonora on Monday that left at least nine dead and multiple others injured.
The victims came through the Douglas Port of Entry shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday to receive medical treatment in the United States.
Five children, ranging in age from 10-months to 14-years, who had sustained gunshot wounds were brought to the Douglas port by the Mexican Red Cross. Four of the wounded were then taken by the DFD to the Douglas Municipal Airport where four helicopters took them to hospitals in Tucson and Phoenix for additional care. The fifth victim was transported by ambulance to the Douglas Emergency Department before being transported to a Tucson hospital.
Lt. Mark Wilkinson of the Douglas Police Department said officers responded to assist the DFD in the transport of those patients.
According to various news reports, a caravan of SUVs was traveling from Bavispe, Sonora to a wedding in the Mormon community of La Mora in the state of Chihuahua when the group was ambushed. The barrage of gunfire caused one of the vehicles to explode and some of the victims died in the flames.
Although relatives of the victims and media outlets in the United States are reporting nine people perished, the Mexican newspaper El Universal is reporting at least a dozen people in the group, including three mothers and their young children, were killed in the ambush.
Multiple media outlets have reported that Mexican law enforcement speculate the attack may have been a case of mistaken identity. But it has also been reported that they were outspoken against criminal groups that operate in the area and this may have been a backlash.
The victims were members of the LeBarón family, a group of dual Mexican and American citizens who have lived in a fundamentalist Mormon community in the border region since the 1940s.
The New York Times spoke to Julian LeBarón, a cousin of some of the victims. He said some of the children hid by the roadside to escape. Family members told the Times the surviving children included a 7-month-old infant and a child about 12 years old who hiked for miles to seek help.
Much of the LeBarón family now lives in North Dakota, where they work in the oil fields and run businesses, but they frequently travel to the border area for holidays, vacations and other special events, said Kenny LeBarón, a cousin of the three slain women.
David Langford, the brother of one of the victims, said the three women who died were his sister Christina Langford; Dawna Langford and Rhonita LeBarón.
The Williston (North Dakota) Herald, a sister paper of the Douglas Dispatch, quoted family members’ social media posts.
"These are all American Citizens," relative Tiffany Langford wrote on Facebook. "Mexico is working to help, but not able to do anything of significance so far. They need help. We are pleading with America to step in and help their people."
Langford listed those killed as Rhonita Maria Miller, 30; Howard Jacob Miller, Jr., 12; Krystal Bellaine Miller, 10; Titus Alvin Miller and Tiana Gricel Miller, 8 month-old twins; Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 31; Dawna Ray Langford, 43; Trevor Harvey Langford, 11; and Rogan Jay Langford, 2.