A bloody scene unfolded in Central California early Monday morning when authorities found the bodies of six victims in what they described as a drug cartel massacre.
The dead included a 6-month-old baby cradled in the arms of her 17-year-old mother. Both were found in a ditch outside the home and had suffered gunshot wounds to the head.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was called to the residence in Goshen just after 3:30 a.m. on reports of shots fired. Neighborhood residents told law enforcement they thought there was an active shooter in the area due to the number of shots heard.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told the Los Angeles Times that officials believe a drug cartel carried out a targeted attack on the residence. Deputies conducted a drug-related search warrant at the same home just last week.
At that point, a man was arrested and officers seized guns, marijuana, and methamphetamine.
Investigators described a 'horrific massacre' of the killing of six people, including a six-month-old baby and her 17-year-old mother, at a home in California https://t.co/REBsJtSKxb pic.twitter.com/eJChEeQ9pt
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 17, 2023
He said that two suspects remain at large, and one initial survivor was taken to an area hospital where they later died. Arriving officers found some victims in the street and others still in their home.
Boudreaux told the paper that “the level of violence…this is not your run-of-the-mill low-end gang member.” He added that “if (they) are specifically shooting everyone in the head, they know what they are doing…(and) they are comfortable with what they are doing.”
Along with the mother and child, an elderly female victim is believed to have been shot in her sleep. Officials reported that three men were also killed in the attack, and one of them had to be identified through DNA due to the viciousness of the assault.
The Times reported that two women survived the mass shooting by hiding in a trailer on the property. The survivors told law enforcement that the shooters were spotted approaching the home on security cameras.
The witnesses said that two men were seen “sneaking onto the property,” but by the time they were spotted “it was too late to do anything.”
The Times cited Tulare County as a “hotbed” for drug traffickers, with illegal narcotics being brought in from Mexico and shipped out to the rest of the country. Several prominent drug cartel figures are reported to have links to the area.