The charred skeleton of an SUV; awindshield pierced with bullet holes; ablood-stained car seat harrowing new images from northern Mexico where nine Americanswere slaughtered by cartel gunmen have been released, showingrelatives reacting to the unspeakable scene.
Three women and six children lost their lives and several were injured in Mondays massacre.
The bloodshed happened in Sonora state, wherethe suspected cartel gunmen ambushed the families convoy of three SUVs as they were on their way to see relatives in the U.S. Thefamilies targeted lived in a Mormon communityabout 70 miles south of Douglas, Ariz.
MEXICAN CARTEL MASSACRE: 9 AMERICANS, INCLUDING 6 CHILDREN FROM MORMON OFFSHOOT MURDERED
Pictures from the scene showed a vehicle with dozens of bullet holes. It was burnt out from a fire after a bullet apparently hit the gas tank and caused an explosion. Relatives were pictured standing around the wreckage, hugging each other and crying.
TRUMP CALLS FOR WAR AGAINST MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL MONSTERS AFTER AMERICANS MURDERED IN SHOOTOUT
Rhonita Maria Miller, 31, and four of her children a 12-year-old son Howard Jr., his 10-year-old sister Krystal and 8-month-old twins Titus and Tiana were found shot and burned in their vehicle, relative Kendra Miller said in an account of the killings. She said only a few bones and ashes remained.
Two other mothers, Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 31, and Dawna Ray Langford, 43, along with Dawnas two sons, 11-year-old Trevor Harvey Langford and 2-year-old Rogan Jay Langford, were all also shot to death. The two mothers were found in a separate location, according to relatives.
Johnson had reportedly stashed her 7-month-old daughter Faith, still strapped in her car seat, on the floor of the vehicle before she got out and raised her arms to show the gunmen the women and children werent a threat. Prosecutors said her body was found 15 yards away riddled with bullets.
Officials have said that the gunmen may have mistaken the groups large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war.
The killers were apparently members of the Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, La Linea The Line whose gunmen had entered Sinaloa cartel territory and set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further up the road, The Associated Press reported.
RELATIVE OF AMERICANS KILLED IN MEXICO BELIEVES FAMILY WAS USED AS BAIT IN CARTEL WAR OVER SMUGGLING ROUTES
The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road into Chihuahua. It was this invasion force that the American mothers and their three vehicles drove into.
It was only after the first vehicle was shot up and set afire that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel gunmen showed up to see what had happened.
But Johnsons sacrifice saved the life of her daughter,Faith, who wasmiraculously foundunharmed.
Seven other children survived the massacre thanks to the courage of a 13-year-old boy, Devin Langford. After witnessing the deaths of his mother and two brothers, he hid his bleeding siblings in nearby bushes while he made the 6-hour, 14-mile trek back to La Morato get help, Miller said.
US VICTIMS OF MEXICAN CARTEL MASSACRE RANGE FROM 8-MONTH-OLD TWINS TO 43-YEAR-OLD MOTHER
A group of male relatives set out to try to rescue the youngsters but turned back when they heard gunfire ahead. In recordings of calls between the men, they can be heard having an agonizing debate over whether it was better to risk more lives, or wait for an hour or two until Mexican army troops arrived.
When they finally found the children, what they saw was heart-wrenching.
Cody, 8, was shot in the jaw and leg, bleeding profusely. His 14-year-old sister, Kylie, was shot in the foot. Zander, 4, was shot in the back and 9-month-old Brixon was shot in the chest.
Mexican authorities airlifted the wounded children to a hospital in the U.S., where they were in stable condition, according to Sonora state health officials.
MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL MASSACRE VICTIMS WERE KIN TO ANTI-CRIME ACTIVIST KILLED 10 YEARS AGO
A suspect was arrested early Wednesday near the Arizona-Mexico border in connection to the deaths.Investigators said they found the suspect holding two hostages who were bound and gagged inside a vehicle. They also foundfour assault rifles and a bulletproof SUV.
President Trump in a tweet following the attack called on Mexico wage war on the drug cartels.
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, hewrote. We merely await a call from your great new president!
But Mexican PresidentAndrs Manuel Lpez Obradorlater responded: The worst thing you can have is war.
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We declared war, and it didnt work, Lopez Obrador said, referring to the policies of previous administrations. That is not an option.
TheFBIhas since offeredassistance to the Mexican government in the investigation, but it was unclear if Mexican authorities have taken up the offer.
Fox News Brie Stimson and Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.B:
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