Two relatives of the LaBarron family in La Mora, Mexico told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum the deadly attack killing nine U.S. dual citizens on Monday was planned, and that the cartel gunmen may have used the women and children as “bait” in a drug cartel territory war.
On Wednesday’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” relative Leah Staddon said the family believes the attack was intentional, not a case of hitting the wrong target, as some reports have suggested.
“All we know is that it was on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. They weren’t in the wrong place in the wrong time. We don’t believe that that’s the truth,” Staddon said.
Staddon, whose sister-in-law and cousin were two of the women drivers, said her nephew was in the second vehicle gunned down when he witnessed Christina Langford Johnson, 31, get out of the car to let the attackers know the caravan was full of women and children.
“They knew it was women and children. There is evidence of that,” she said.
Rhonita Miller and the four children in her car were repeatedly shot at until the car exploded and caught on fire. Their remains were burned to ashes except for a few bones, enough to identity all five of those in the vehicle. State authorities said more than 200 bullet casings were found near the vehicles.
Staddon told the local CBS affiliate that her sister heard the gunshots and could see the smoke from her house in La Mora, the settlement of fewer than 1,000 people about 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona.
MacCallum also spoke with Lafe Langford Jr., another relative of the victims, who said there is no evidence to support the idea that the LaBarron family instigated the conflict with the cartel.
“The only way that we can understand it is that our family was used as bait to lure one cartel against another,” he said.
Langford also appeared on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning, where he explained a war between cartels had recently broken out near the Arizona border and cartel foot soldiers had been sent into Sonora to take control of smuggling routes.
“In the process, we have a lot of evidence and reason to believe that they had a strategic plan and we were attacked, unfortunately,” he said. “The vehicles that had left our community were…we believe they may have been used as bait to try to attract the cartel in Sonora to them. To bring the war to them.”