Mexican authorities have arrested a suspect they believe is connected to the brutal massacre that killed nine U.S. citizens—six of whom were children—after the victims’ convoy was riddled with gunfire on Monday in what authorities believe was a case of mistaken identity by a powerful drug cartel.
In a post on social media, The Agency for Criminal Investigation said Wednesday the suspect was taken into custody in Agua Prieta, a town just across the border from Douglas, Arizona, Fox News reports.
The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, was allegedly found holding two hostages who were bound and gagged in a vehicle.
The suspect was also in possession of four assault rifles, ammunition and large vehicles, including a bullet-proof SUV, the Associated Press reports.
Authorities believe the victims—some of whom were traveling to a wedding—were attacked after a drug cartel mistook their SUV caravan for drug rivals, according to The New York Post.
The victims, including three moms and six children, had been living in a remote farming community in Mexico about 70 miles from the Arizona border, according to the AP. They had been part of a Mormon group whose ancestors fled the United States decades ago to escape the United States ban on polygamy.
Amid the bloodshed, eight children actually survived the massacre in part thanks to 13-year-old Devin Blake Langford’s quick thinking.
"After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Devin hid his six other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help," a relative said. "When he took too long to return, his 9-year-old sister left the remaining five to try again."
At least five of the children who survived had been injured and one of the young girls was shot in the face.
Mom Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, is also being credited with saving the life of her 7-month-old daughter by laying the young girl’s car seat on the floor of the vehicle before she got out of the car and frantically waved her arms to try to stop the massacre. She was shot in the chest and killed.
Johnson had been driving along with another vehicle driven by Dawna Langford, 43, to attend a wedding when they were gunned down. Langford was shot to death along with two of her sons, 11-year-old Trevor and 2-year-old Rogan. Seven other children who were in the car, including Devin Blake Langford, were able to escape and survived.
A third vehicle being driven by mom Rhonita Maria Miller, 30, had been on the way to the Phoenix airport to pick up Miller’s husband, family has said. But along the way, Miller got a flat fire. The gunfire broke out before she could fix it, leaving her and four of her children who were in the car at the time dead. The children have been identified as Howard, 12; Krystal, 10, and 8-month-old twins Titus and Tiana.
The family was “burnt to a crisp” after one of the bullets ignited the SUV’s gas tank, one relative said, according to The Post.
“It appeared that one [of the kids in the Tahoe] tried to escape, as the front passenger door was open and the remains were partially in and out of the vehicle,” relative Kendra Lee Miller wrote on Facebook.
Authorities have said they recovered more than 200 shell casings from the scene stretching over several miles.
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