Jan 16 (Reuters) – Six people, including a six-month-old baby cradled in the arms of his 17-year-old mother, were shot dead on Monday at their home in California’s vast agricultural valley in what authorities called a targeted attack and a “horrific murder.”
Tulare Sheriff Mike Boudreaux linked the killing to an unrelated drug deal, saying deputies executed a search warrant at the same home last week.
“We believe this was the message being sent,” Boudreaux told reporters at the scene. “We believe this was a straight family.”
Two suspects remained at large, he said.
Authorities responded early Monday after multiple shots were heard. Some victims were found in the street while others were found in the house.
One victim was alive and suffering from injuries when authorities arrived but later died at the hospital, Boudreaux said.
The attacks took place in Goshen, a town of 5,400 between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The bodies of the baby and the 17-year-old woman were in a hole 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 at the site.
“I think it’s directly related to the cartel. The level of violence … this was not your typical low-level gang member,” Boudreaux told the newspaper.
“If (they’re) shooting everybody in the head, they know what they’re doing … (and) they’re comfortable with what they’re doing.”
The newspaper reported that last week’s investigation led to one arrest and the seizure of a firearm, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, Calif. Edited by Josie Kao and Matthew Lewis
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.