Mormon massacre in Mexico: US victims were shot at point-blank range

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Mormon massacre in Mexico: US victims were shot at point-blank range

Many of the nine women and children killed on a remote stretch of highway in northern Mexico Monday were shot at point-blank range — victims of a targeted assassination that Mexican authorities refuse to allow their American counterparts to investigate, according to high-ranking Mexican and US law enforcement sources.

“They were taken out of their cars and shot,” an American federal investigator told The Post. “It’s kind of disturbing that the FBI has had no access to the crime scene, which is probably a disaster already because the Mexicans have allowed families to remove the bodies. Any evidence that could have been gathered is probably destroyed.”

The Mexican federal official close to the investigation told The Post that the sicarios “shot some of the victims at point-blank range” and that local authorities were still gathering evidence at the scene in Sonora state, some 70 miles from the Arizona border, where the massacre occurred.

The revelations run completely counter to the official accounts the Mexican government put out, which blamed the deaths of three mothers and six young children — including 8-month old twins — on cartel gunmen who mistook the Mormons’ convoy of dark SUVs for a rival drug group’s.

Enlarge ImageAlleged drug trafficker Jose Rodolfo Escajeda
Alleged drug trafficker Jose Rodolfo Escajeda AP

Army chief of staff Hector Mendoza told a press conference that a faction of the Juarez Cartel, La Linea, thought their Los Salazar rivals — in the Sinaloa Cartel, once headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — were encroaching. Mendoza said that the two criminal groups had clashed a day before the massacre in the same region. Mendoza said that the attackers even allowed some of the surviving children to go, indicating that “it was not a targeted attack.”

But both sources said Mexican officials were covering up the savage attack’s true targets.

“We’ve been saying all along that the Mexican government just doesn’t want to investigate anything related to drug trafficking,” said the American federal source, adding that officials in Sonora state sought FBI help for the massacre probe but were thwarted by Mexican federal officials.

“They will go to any extreme to cover everything up,” said the US source. “It’s completely corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Enlarge Image
Getty Images

On Saturday, an FBI spokesman offered only this comment when asked if it was being obstructed by Mexican authorities: “The FBI continues to engage with our US government and Mexican law enforcement partners. We have offered assistance and stand ready to assist in the wake of this tragedy.”

Some members of the victims’ families who were part of a tight-knit group of Mormon communities in the neighboring states of Sonora and Chihuahua said they don’t believe the government’s official version of events.

“They [the hitmen] had to know that these were women and children,” said Julian LeBaron in an interview with “El Universal” in Mexico. He told the newspaper that some of the eight children who survived the massacre said that one of the mothers left her truck with her hands up in the air when she was shot and killed.

Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, was fatally shot in the chest when she jumped out of her Chevy Suburban and waved at the shooters to try to get them to stop. Before leaving the vehicle, she placed her 7-month-old daughter Faith’s car seat on the SUV’s floor, likely saving the child’s life.

The brave mother was buried on Saturday, her plain pine casket surrounded by members of the Mormon communities and relatives of the extended Le Baron family. Her husband, Tyler Johnson, was seen holding a young boy during the service in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Enlarge ImageA relative reacts during the burial of Rhonita Miller and her children Howard, Kristal, Titus, and Teana, who were killed by unknown assailants, in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico
A relative reacts during the burial of Rhonita Miller and her children Howard, Kristal, Titus, and Teana, who were killed by unknown assailants, in LeBaron, Chihuahua, MexicoReuters

The victims, dual US-Mexican citizens, all had links to the prominent LeBaron and Langford families in several small Mormon farming communities that have a long history of violent clashes with local drug traffickers.

“This is a very high-risk zone for confrontations with cartels,” said the Mexican source, adding that both the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels use the remote roads to transport drugs to the Arizona border.

Mormons began settling in the region after 1890 when the US government began to put restrictions on polygamy. The community is fundamentalist but has no leader and is not affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints in Utah. Many in the community still practice polygamy.

Enlarge ImageAlthough it’s not yet clear what might have provoked last week’s massacre in which three SUVs traveling in a convoy between Sonora and Chihauhua states were attacked by a hail of bullets and engulfed in flames, the prosperous Mormon farmers and ranchers in the rugged, mountainous region have long been vocal opponents of drug traffickers, and have resisted attempts by the criminal groups to extort them in the past.

In 2009, Julian LeBaron’s older brother, Benjamin, a local farmer and activist founder of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua in Colonia LeBaron, was killed by traffickers after he led protests over the kidnapping of their 10-year-old brother, Eric, who was being held for $1 million in ransom by local drug traffickers. Colonia LeBaron was founded in 1924.

The family refused to pay the ransom and Eric was eventually released, but Benjamin and a neighbor — Luis Widmar — were killed when 20 heavily armed men invaded the LeBaron home and shot both men dead.

“These are not isolated incidents,” said Julian LeBaron, in a 2010 opinion piece in a Dallas newspaper. “Throughout our nation, countless people have lost their lives or their security in a similar manner, while politics of confusion and volumes of magic words appear to have more sway than reality.”

The massacre has come on the heels of other violent confrontations between traffickers in Mexico, which has already recorded more than 32,000 homicides since December. Last year’s total was 33,341 homicides, most of them related to drug violence, according to Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior.

Last month, an elite group of state police officers on a routine patrol in Culiacan, in northern Mexico, captured one of El Chapo’s sons. But when a fierce gun battle erupted around them, killing two people and injuring 21, security forces released Ovidio Guzman Lopez. Last week, the 30-year-old officer who detained Guzman Lopez, was ambushed and killed in a hail of more than 150 bullets in Culiacan.

Enlarge ImageA woman holds a picture of Mormon anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and his neighbor Luis Widmar, who were killed in 2009
A woman holds a picture of Mormon anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and his neighbor Luis Widmar, who were killed in 2009ASSOCIATED PRESS

Since coming to power last year, Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s security strategy has been to emphasize “hugs not bullets” to combat drug-related violence in the country.

“It was lamentable, painful because children died, but do we want to resolve the problem … by declaring war?” said Lopez Obrador last week in response to the Mormon massacre.

FILED UNDER       

Mexico vows to take legal action against U.S. after deadly El Paso shooting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Mexico vows to take legal action against U.S. after deadly El Paso shooting

At least three of the 20 dead in Saturday’s attack, described by Mexico’s foreign minister as an “act of barbarism,” are Mexican nationals.
Image: Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard attends a press conference in Mexico City on July 22, 2019.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard attends a press conference in Mexico City on July 22, 2019.Daniel Aguilar / AFP – Getty Images file

At least 9 people killed and 16 injured after shooting in Dayton, Ohio

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

At least 9 people killed and 16 injured after shooting in Dayton, Ohio; suspect also dead

The suspected shooter, who is believed to have acted alone, is also dead.

Mass Shooting In El Paso Texas Multiple People Have Been Killed Many Wounded

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Multiple people have been killed in a shooting in El Paso, Texas, police say

Police earlier said they received reports of multiple shooters and were “conducting (a) search of a very large area.”
Agents from the FBI office in El Paso are responding to the incident, the office told CNN.
A second mall about 2.5 miles away from Cielo Vista is also on lock-down, according to an employee at a liquor store attached to the mall.
Authorities put the mall on lock-down because of the reported shooting at Cielo Vista, Frankie Nunez, an employee at Bassett WB Liquors & Wine, said.
And employee at the Target store at Bassett Place also confirmed the mall had been placed on lock-down.

‘You don’t think it could happen here’

At least three businesses are on lock-down in the area, about three miles south of El Paso International Airport.
Three Walmart employees took refuge at a nearby Landry’s Seafood house, restaurant manager Oscar Collazo told CNN. The women appeared “shook up” but not injured.
Landry’s had already gone on lock-down, he said, but opened its doors when the employees ran there.
“We never thought it would be so close to us this time,” Collazo said. “You see on the news all the time, but you don’t think it could happen here until it does.”
The nearby Hooters and Red Lobster are also on lock-down. Employees at those restaurants told CNN they are safe and see a lot of police, helicopters and people running around outside.

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In a shaky Snapchat video aired by CNN, a woman holding the camera frantically runs with a small group of girls or women through a Cielo Vista mall department store and into a parking lot.
As the group hurries past racks of clothes and cases of merchandise, voices off camera shout, “Hands up!”
Once in the parking lot, one member of the group asks, “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” the woman holding the camera responds. “I don’t know.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who once represented the area in Congress, asked residents to follow the directions of first responders.
“Truly heartbreaking,” O’Rourke said on Twitter. “Stay safe, El Paso.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that the state Department of Public Safety is assisting local law enforcement.
The scene is unfolding in the same week two employees were fatally shot at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi, and three people were shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California.

ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West

Monday, 22 October, 2018 – 08:45
New ISIS poster threatening to carry out attacks against the West. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
An ISIS-affiliated group threatened to launch new attacks in the West through a new poster celebrating the Orlando nightclub massacre.

The poster reminds of the June 2016 shooting rampage at the Pulse gay club that left 49 people dead and dozens more wounded.

It depicts a masked, gun-wielding militant in combat gear, an explosive, terror attack headlines, and the bloody caption, “Soon in your homelands”.

Notably, ISIS-affiliated groups routinely publish propaganda online threatening attacks against everything, from London’s Oxford Street shopping district to Halloween events in the US.

The post threatening new attacks was shared online by SITE Intel Group, which monitors terrorist activity on the internet.

In a related matter, a picture was published last week threatening a new attack in Paris, and it depicted a drone carrying explosives and a gun-wielding attacker at the Eiffel Tower.

The caption warned: “Await for our surprises”.

Orlando assassin Omar Mateen, 29, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call that he made during the attack, which at the time was the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

He claimed that the death of ISIS leader Abu Waheeb, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq just weeks earlier, motivated him to carry out the massacre along with US military action in Iraq and Syria.

Mateen was shot dead when a SWAT team stormed the nightclub.

In the aftermath, investigators said Mateen may have been inspired by ISIS, but there was no evidence that he was instructed by or had been in contact with any terrorists.

ISIS has suffered heavy losses over 2017 as major offensives in Iraq and Syria pushed them out of their strongholds.

Last year, ISIS propaganda encouraged militants to attack Christmas markets in Europe, including those in the UK, France, and Germany.

One poster depicted a militant with a blood-stained knife stalking a Christmas market near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Another depicted a masked terrorist preparing to decapitate Father Christmas in what appeared to be London’s Regent Street.

1st funeral Pakistani exchange student remembered as ‘precious gift’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

1st funeral of Santa Fe High School shooting: Pakistani exchange student remembered as ‘precious gift’

Family and friends on Sunday remembered 17-year-old Sabika Sheikh as a hard-working and accomplished Pakistani exchange student, during the first of many planned funerals for victims of the Texas high school shooting massacre.

Sheikh, who had been attending classes at Santa Fe High School since last August, said getting accepted into a U.S. program to study was the best thing that ever happened to her in her life. She was scheduled to go home to Pakistan in three weeks, by Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The shooting at the high school southeast of Houston killed 10 people and wounded at least 13 others. A 17-year-old student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, is being held on murder charges.

Family and friends share memories of their loved ones killed in Texas school shooting.

Sabika’s funeral took place Sunday afternoon at a mosque in suburban Houston to overflowing crowds. Her immediate family could not be there with her; relatives are in Pakistan, and the Pakistani Consulate has organized to have her remains returned to her family.

Sabika was an honor student.

At the services, she was remembered as a young woman who wanted to be a businesswoman or a diplomat in the Consulate General’s Office.

Her host mother from the Cochran family said Sabika wanted Americans to know Pakistan better.

The host family said their time with her was “such a precious gift,” as Sabika and their kids were united in love.

The family even started fasting with her for Ramadan.

Former NYS Homeland Security head Michael Balboni on steps to take now.

“When I first started school, I didn’t know anyone. And I met Sabika, and she didn’t know anyone either. And we both became very close,” Jalyn Cochran, who previously had been homeschooled, said. “The other night we were in the car and I was crying because I didn’t want her to go back to Pakistan. And she said, I love you and I miss you. She was so loyal to her faith and her country. And she loved everybody. She was the most amazing person I’d ever met, and I will always miss her.”

Houston, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner, has one of largest exchange students programs in the world. “This is one of those moments that we say drive people’s souls. The death of Sabika and nine others are impacting people all over the world,” he said, adding that schools ought to be made as safe as airports and government buildings.

Her body is to be returned to her family in Karachi, Pakistan.

Surrounded by mourning friends and family at his home in Karachi on Saturday, her father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, fought back tears as he relived his frantic efforts to check whether his daughter was safe half a world away. She wasn’t returning his calls and neither were her friends. He eventually learned from the exchange program that she was among the dead.

“We are still in a state of denial. We can’t believe it. It’s like a nightmare,” Sheikh told The Associated Press.

“One should not lose his heart by such kind of incidents,” he added. “One should not stop going for education to the U.S. or U.K., or China, or anywhere. One must go for education undeterred. But controlling such incidents is the responsibility of the respective governments.”

Medical staff at HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division-affiliated Clear Lake Regional Medical Center reported Sunday that one child remained in serious condition with multiple gunshot wounds, while another was in good condition after being shot. A Santa Fe High School student who had been treated and released Friday was readmitted to the hospital Saturday for further observation, and then later released Saturday evening.

Governor Greg Abbott also issued a statewide call for Texans to take part in a moment of silence at 10:00 a.m. local time Monday to honor the memory of the victims of the shooting. “The act of evil that occurred in Santa Fe has deeply touched the core of who we are as Texans,” said Abbott. “In the midst of such tragedy, we pray for the victims and those mourning in Santa Fe, while we work to ensure swift and meaningful action to protect our students in schools across our state. I ask all Texans to join in holding a moment of silence tomorrow morning to remember the victims, their families, and first responders of the attack that took place at Santa Fe High School.”

Fox News’ Ray Bogan and Emilie Ikeda in Texas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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