Six people, including a 6-month old baby, her teenage mother and an elderly woman, were killed Monday in a Tulare County farming community in what the sheriff said was likely a targeted attack by a drug cartel.
The massacre occurred around 3:30 a.m. in and around three neighboring residences in the community of Goshen near Visalia. Authorities said they were searching for two suspects and that the killings may have been related to a search warrant carried out last week at one of the homes that resulted in one arrest and the seizure of methamphetamine.
“I think it’s specifically connected to the cartel,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told The Times. “The level of violence … this was not your run-of-the-mill low-end gang member.”
Authorities did not release the names or ages of all the victims, but said it appeared some were family members.
Several were shot in the head, including the baby, Boudreaux said. A sheriff’s deputy responding to reports of wild gunfire found the infant cradled in the arms of her 17-year-old mother in a ditch outside the homes. Both had gunshot wounds to the head.
The third female victim, an elderly woman found in a bed in one residence, also was shot in the head.
“It appeared she was shot in her sleep,” Boudreaux said.
Three men were also killed. One was alive when deputies arrived and was given CPR and taken to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
It was unclear whether the man arrested last week was one of the victims, Boudreaux said. DNA testing will be required to identify at least one of the men because of damage done to his face by the gun or guns used, the sheriff said.
Two women survived the attack by hiding in a trailer home. Boudreaux said they told investigators that people on the property saw intruders approaching on surveillance cameras.
“They could see two men sneaking onto the property … but by the time they came on [the video feed], it was too late to do anything.”
It appeared the teenage mother was trying to run away with her child when killed, he said.
Investigators did not release the names or descriptions of the suspects.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 733-6218.