California authorities have described the killing of six people, including a six-month-old baby cradled in the arms of her 17-year-old mother, as a targeted attack and “horrific massacre”.
The killings took place in California’s main agricultural valley on Monday.The Tulare county sheriff, Mike Boudreaux, linked the killings to the illegal drug trade, saying deputies had conducted a drug-related search warrant at the same home last week.
“We believe this was a message being sent,” Boudreaux told reporters at the scene. “We believe that this was a targeted family.”
Two suspects remained at large, he said.
Authorities responded early on Monday after multiple shots were heard. Some victims were found in the street while others were discovered in the house.
One victim was alive and wounded when authorities arrived but later died at a hospital, Boudreaux said.
The attacks occurred in Goshen, a farm community of 5,400 people about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The bodies of the infant and 17-year-old mother were located in a ditch outside the home, Boudreaux later told the Los Angeles Times. Both had gunshot wounds to the head.
Several others were shot in the head, including an elderly woman. Two women survived by hiding in a trailer on the property.
“I think it’s specifically connected to the cartel. The level of violence … this was not your run-of-the-mill low-end gang member,” Boudreaux told the newspaper.
“If [they] are specifically shooting everyone in the head, they know what they are doing … [and] they are comfortable with what they are doing.”
The newspaper reported that last week’s search warrant resulted in one arrest and the seizure of guns, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Samuel Pina said Monday that his teenage granddaughter, Alissa Parraz, and her baby, Nycholas Nolan Parraz, were among those killed.
“I can’t wrap my head around what kind of monster would do this,” he told the Associated Press.
Pina said Parraz and her baby were living with her father’s side of the family in Goshen, and that her dad’s uncle, her dad’s cousin, and her grandmother and great-grandmother were also killed.
He said the family is in shock. “It comes in big waves,” he said.