A young mother was clutching her 10-month-old son and running for safety when both were gunned down in a horrific attack that left six dead in a small central California community, the sheriff said.
Forensic evidence shows a shooter stood over 16-year-old Alissa Parraz and her son Nycholas and shot both of them in the head, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said Tuesday during a news conference.
“I know for a fact that this young lady was running for her life,” he said of the Monday attack that sent the teen fleeing a home where at least two suspects opened fire in a “cartel-like execution.”
“I’m not saying that this is a cartel, but also be clear that I am not eliminating that possibility,” Boudreaux said. “These people were clearly shot in the head, and they were also shot in places that the shooter would know that quick death would occur. This is also similar to high-ranking gang affiliations and the style of execution that they commit.
“So, we don’t if this is a gang-affiliated shooting, a cartel-affiliation or if the two are combined. But what we can tell you is the manner in which this has occurred is definitely one of the two, if not combined.”
The massacre is one of 33 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which like CNN tallies events in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter. As of Wednesday, 17 children age 11 and younger died by gunshots so far this year while 26 suffered injuries, according to the archive.
The killings have shocked the Goshen community, the sheriff said, but he assured residents, “This was not a random act of violence. This was a very specific targeted act of violence. So, I don’t want the community to be scared or worried.”
California authorities are searching for at least two suspects in Monday’s massacre and have offered a $10,000 reward for information that could lead to their arrest. Those with surveillance footage from the place and time of the massacre are asked to share it.
The victims were targeted just before 3:40 a.m. at home in Goshen, California, a farming community about 30 miles southeast of Fresno, the sheriff said.
The home was known to law enforcement for illegal activity, Boudreaux said.
“But let me make this very clear: Not all these people in this home are gang members. And not all these people in this home are drug dealers. The 16-year-old female is an innocent victim. The grandmother inside appears to be an innocent victim. And definitely this 10-month-old child is an innocent victim,” he added.
The four other victims in Monday’s attack were identified as Marcos Parraz, 19; Eladio Parraz, 52; Alissa’s grandmother, Rosa Parraz, 72; and Jennifer Analla, 49, a close friend of a family member who survived.
3 survivors hid as they heard shots
Investigators have already collected hundreds of pieces of evidence from the crime scene, Boudreaux said during Tuesday’s news conference, adding detectives are working around the clock on forensics.
The three people who survived the shooting are relaying key details to authorities, he said.
One survivor described hearing shots ring out in the home as he lay flat inside a room, pushing his feet against the door to keep it closed, Boudreaux said. He heard at least one of the shooters rattling the doorknob before they walked away.
“He was in such a state of fear that all he could do was hold the door, hoping that he was not the next victim,” Boudreaux said.
The two other survivors hid in a nearby trailer, where one of the victims was shot in the threshold of the trailer door, Boudreaux added.
“Fortunately, the two suspects in this case never entered that trailer. … So we have three surviving victims, who are providing a great deal of information,” he said.
As authorities gather evidence, they can’t release everything they know because the suspects may be watching, the sheriff said.
“We will be slow, methodical, accurate, precise … we will make sure that when we make these arrests that this investigation for the victims – these people will be held to justice,” he added.
Narcotics warrant issued days before shooting
Roughly two weeks before the shooting, deputies with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office found shell casings outside the home on January 3 when they were attempting to conduct a parole compliance check, the office said in a news release emailed to CNN.
Compliance checks are done by law enforcement on people who are on felony parole to ensure they’re following the law, Boudreaux explained.
At the time, deputies asked to go inside the home but people at the house refused. Deputies returned with a warrant and found marijuana, methamphetamine, guns and body armor, according to the news release.
Eladio Parraz, one of the shooting victims, was arrested for being a felon in possession of ammunition, firearms and a controlled substance, the sheriff’s office said. He was released on bail four days later, the release said.
This story has been updated with additional comments from Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux about who might be responsible for the killings.
CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph, Holly Yan and Stella Chan contributed to this report.