An attack on American citizens in the northern Mexican state of Sonora has left at least nine dead and multiple others injured.
Among those killed were members of a family with ties to Williston.
A caravan of SUVs was traveling through Sonora when the group was attacked by gunmen, according to family and media reports. Family members have blamed members of Mexican drug cartels for the attack. Multiple media outlets have reported that Mexican officials say they think the attack was a case of mistaken identity.
Tiffany Langford, a family member, posted on Facebook that as of Monday, Nov. 4, nine people were confirmed dead, including a mother and her four children who had been shot and burned in their vehicle.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the woman was Rhonita Maria LeBaron Miller and the children were her infant twins and two of her four older children.
“These are all American Citizens,” 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.”
On her Facebook page, Tiffany Langford offered a narrative of what happened Monday. She 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.
In a Facebook post, another relative, Jhon Lebaron, wrote that Rhonita’s husband was in North Dakota. Some of the group had been heading to visit relatives while another was going to pick up her husband from the airport in Phoenix.
“They were ambushed by the Mexican cartels; shot, burned, and murdered in cold blood,” he wrote. “These were innocent civilians, American citizens simply trying to live peaceful lives.”
The family members are part of an enclave established in northern Mexico in the early 20th century by members of a group that was an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
As news trickled in about the incident, President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., both posted online about it.
Trump offered via Twitter to send military aid to Mexico to fight the cartels, an offer Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined.
Cramer offered his condolences and said the U.S. needed to do something about the tragedy.
Cramer also spoke about the deaths on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
“What this family has experienced is the personification of evil in the form of this Mexican drug cartel,” Cramer was quoted as saying in a news release. “But we serve a God who personifies pure good, and the greatest response to pure evil is pure good. I want to express as much as anything to those grieving that today their burden is our burden too.”
On Tuesday, a group of friends started a fundraiser on crowdfunding site GoFundMe. Organizer Michelle Rigby wrote about the purpose of effort.
“My very dear friend has lost family members in a senseless, horrific attack on 11/4 in Mexico,” she wrote. “We are raising funds to help gather all family members together, pay for medical and funeral expenses and anything else that comes up as they mourn this loss.”
The fundraiser had brought in pledges of more than $55,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. The goal is $500,000.