Deadly attack on Mormons on US-Mexico border

11 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:05 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Mexico President thanks Trump for support — but says handling attack is Mexico's responsibility

Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images
Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Speaking in a daily news conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked President Trump for his help — but said it is Mexico's responsibility to deal with this incident.  

“At the end of this press conference I will communicate with him [President Trump] to inform him [about the incident]. I will thank him for his support and we will discuss if we need assistance," adding "I do not believe that we will. It's Mexico's responsibility," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said, “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!” In a previous tweet, Trump said that the US “stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively.”

President Lopez Obrador has acknowledged that the US and Mexico have a "cooperative relationship," citing this incident as "an example of this cooperation.” He said he will call President Trump after the press conference. 

Remember: The attorney general of the State of Chihuahua said preliminary information indicates the 9 dual US-Mexican citizens were attacked by criminal groups, but officials have not explicitly said a drug cartel was behind the attack.

10:00 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Many details about the attack are unclear. Here's what we know so far.

Members of a Mormon community were attacked while traveling near the US-Mexico border, authorities said today.

Many details about the attack are unclear, but here's what we know so far:

  • At least nine dead: Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said three women and six children were killed in the attack. A relative of the victims said the nine were family members and all had dual US-Mexico citizenship.
  • More are injured: Seven children injured from the ambush were flown from Mexico to Douglas, Arizona, for transport to Tucson hospitals, a family member told CNN.
  • Who's behind the attack: A family member told CNN the victims were attacked “separately but simultaneously by two different groups of same cartel.” The attorney general of the State of Chihuahua said preliminary information indicates they were attacked by criminal groups, but officials have not explicitly said a drug cartel was behind the attack.
  • What the US is saying: The US State Department is aware of the attack, an agency spokesperson said. "When a US citizen is missing or passes away overseas, we engage with local officials at multiple levels and provide all appropriate consular assistance," the spokesperson said.
9:50 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Several family cars were traveling together for safety when they were attacked, relative says

Family members of the victims said the attack occurred in the Mexican state of Sonora, where a large Mormon community has resided for decades, CNN's Matt Rivers reports.

While the story is still developing, the relative told CNN that there were three women and a number of children in several cars when they were attacked. The vehicles had different final destinations but were traveling together initially for security reasons. During that journey, the convoy was attacked.

Rivers explained Sonora is a part of northwestern Mexico that has seen horrific amounts of cartel and drug-related violence. The family thinks that perhaps one cartel mistook the convoy for another cartel. (Remember: while the attorney general of the State of Chihuahua said preliminary information indicates they were attacked by criminal groups, but officials have not explicitly said a drug cartel was behind the attack.)

The attack comes amid worsening violence in Mexico: This year alone 100 people per day have been killed in the country as a result of drug-related violence, Rivers reported.

8:46 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Here's what President Trump has tweeted about the deadly attack

President Trump commented on the news that nine people were killed in Mexico Monday.

“A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing.”

In a tweet minutes later, Trump added bluntly: “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!” 

Some context: A family member told CNN the victims were attacked “separately but simultaneously by two different groups of same cartel.” The attorney general of the State of Chihuahua said preliminary information indicates they were attacked by criminal groups, but officials have not explicitly said a drug cartel was behind the attack.

Here are the tweets: 

8:42 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Her family members were killed in the attack: "It just seems like a bad dream"

Leah Staddon told CNN affiliate KTVK that her relatives were among the victims of the attack.

“I think a lot of us are just speechless. It’s just horrific,” Staddon said. “My sister could actually see the smoke from her house and they heard the gunshots… just can’t believe that this has actually happened to our family. It just seems like a bad dream.”
8:31 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Mormon Church calls attack "terrible and tragic," but says victims were not church members

People walk past a reflection pool and the historic Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.
People walk past a reflection pool and the historic Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. George Frey/Getty Images

The Mormons killed near the US-Mexico border appear to be members of a fundamentalist sect that is separate from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

CNN reached out to LDS-Church spokesperson. Here's what he said:

“This does sound like a terrible and tragic thing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information, as from what I can tell, these were members of a polygamist sect, and not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
8:29 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Mexico's president: "Innocent children have lost their lives"

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Mexico's Security Minister confirmed nine people were killed Monday in an attack on a Mormon family traveling in Mexico. 

Speaking in a daily news conference alongside Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo confirmed three women and six children were killed in the attack. A family member confirmed the deaths to CNN earlier today.

Durazo said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity of "conflicting groups in the area."

President Obrador offered his condolences to the family, calling it a "terrible tragedy," adding, "innocent children have lost their lives."

8:18 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

Video of the scene shows a burnt-out vehicle

Footage captured at the scene of the brutal attack shows the remains of the vehicle transporting a Mormon family living near the US-Mexico as a burnt shell.

A relative said nine family members were killed in the attack.

Here's what the scene looks like:

A screengrab taken from video of the scene posted on social media. 
A screengrab taken from video of the scene posted on social media. 

8:11 a.m. ET, November 5, 2019

How the US State Department is responding to attack reports

 

The State Department has responded to early reports of several family members being killed in Mexico. 

Nine family members with dual citizenships — to the US and Mexico — were killed in northern Mexico on Monday, Alex LeBaron, a family member of the Mormon community told CNN from Mexico today.

Here's the statement from a State Department spokesperson: 

"We are aware of these reports. The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is among the Department of State’s top priorities. When a U.S. citizen is missing or passes away overseas, we engage with local officials at multiple levels and provide all appropriate consular assistance."