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Utah Family Says Relatives Gunned Down In Attack In Mexico

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The U.S. State Department said Monday it was aware of reports that U.S. citizens, including three mothers and several children with ties to Utah, were gunned down in a small town less than 100 miles south of the Mexican border.

“It’s terrible. I never could have imagined it. It’s been so peaceful down there. We’ve never been in the middle of any cartel violence at all,” said Taylor Langford, who was born and raised where it happened, more than a thousand miles south of Salt Lake City in a small Mexican town called La Mora.

The first sign of tragedy was the charred remains of a vehicle that Langford said belonged to his cousin Rhonita.

“They saw the smoke and went up to see what was going on,” he said of his relatives who live there.

Langford said Rhonita and four of her children, including twin babies, were inside the car heading to Arizona when they were ambushed, shot and then burned.

“Helpless families are being innocently killed down there,” Langford said.

“These are U.S. citizens,” Langford’s wife, Laura, added.

The Langfords were among several family members in Utah who waited anxiously throughout Monday for any hint of good news. Sadly, the updates only grew worse.

“This was an attack on families, women and children. They need to step in and protect their citizens,” Langford said, speaking of the Mexican government.

His aunt Dawna was traveling in a separate car with nine of her children. She and at least three of the children were killed, according to family.

The whereabouts of the others were unknown for much of the day until her 13-year-old son managed to escape back to town to alert others that his siblings were hiding and wounded.

Langford said his other cousin Christina was also riding in the group, in another car with her baby. Christina was killed and the baby somehow survived, despite being hit, according to Langford.

Langford said the shooting from the cartels lasted much of the day, leaving his parents, siblings and hundreds of others in the small town with little choice but to stay inside. Many of them go back and forth between Utah and Mexico.

“Most of them are hunkered down. They don’t know what else to do,” Langford said.

“They’re terrified,” Laura Langford said. “They’re waiting for help from the government.”

Waiting, hoping and praying that the heartbreaking news will end soon.

“It’s not just got caught in gunfire in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was a whole new level of cartel violence,” Taylor Langford said.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said, “We are aware of these reports. The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is among the Department of State’s top priorities. When a U.S. citizen is missing or passes away overseas, we engage with local officials at multiple levels and provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

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