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SONORA, Mexico, Nov. 5, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Reactions are pouring in after 9 members of a family with Utah ties were killed in an ambush by alleged members of a drug cartel in Sonora, Mexico.
The family members were part of a decades old settlement founded by followers of a fundamentalist religious group called The Church of the Firstborn, an unauthorized offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group has a compound called La Mora very close to where the women and children were killed.
Family member Lafe Langford, Jr., posted video of a burned-out, bullet-riddled Chevy Suburban in a field next to a road near the Sonora-Chihuahua border.
“This is for the record, Nita, and four of my grandchildren are burnt and shot up. Right on the road out of La Mora.”
Nita was later identified in Langford’s post as Rhonita Miller.
Langford also reported two other Suburbans, carrying two mothers and 10 children, had vanished. He later posted the devastating news that both mothers and a number of children had been killed or wounded.
The youngest among the dead were twins, less than a year old.
By Tuesday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump had posted a reaction to the killings:
“A wonderful family and friends from Utah got got between two vicious drug cartels who were shooting at each other, the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some are missing,” his first tweet, issued Tuesday morning, says. “If mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these …..
“(His second tweet begins) …. monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined Trump’s offer at his daily press briefing.
“It’s not in agreement with our convictions,” he told reporters. “The worse thing is war.”
Numerous news agencies are referring to the victims as Mormons, although they are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Church has clarified that point in the past.
“We are heartbroken to hear of the tragedy that has touched these families in Mexico,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement to Gephardt Daily.
“Though it is our understanding that they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our love, prayers and sympathies are with them as they mourn and remember their loved ones.”
The father of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was born in an LDS enclave elsewhere in Mexico, “surrounded by rugged beauty and violent drug cartels,” Smithsonian magazine notes.
Sen. Romney also posted a Twitter reaction to the deadly attack on the women and children.
“Ann and I are heartbroken for the victims of the horrific attacks in Mexico,” he wrote. “Our prayers are with their families who have suffered such an unspeakable tragedy. The U.S. must work with Mexican officials to hold accountable those responsible for this senseless violence.”