KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An ambush near the United States/Mexican border Tuesday morning claimed the lives of family members of a Kansas City, Kansas, attorney.
Denise LeBaron-Ramos, who has offices near downtown Kansas City, Kansas, released a statement that her family members were among the three women, four children and two infants killed in an attack in northwestern Mexico on Monday.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon at her KCK office, LeBaron-Ramos said the nine killed were traveling during the day between Sonora and Chihuahua, two states in Mexico. She said a drug cartel, or possibly two cartels, attacked the three-vehicle caravan as they drove along a rural dirt road through the mountains.
One of the vehicles was completely torched, LeBaron-Ramos said. A 7-month-old believed to be dead was found inside one of the vehicles alive.
Six other children escaped the attack, and five of them were shot and wounded, according to LeBaron-Ramos. One child remained in critical condition on Tuesday afternoon.
The child who was not shot, a 13-year-old boy, was able to reach the community after the attack and alert others to the children who were injured and in hiding.
The three women killed were LeBaron-Ramos' cousin, 43-year-old Dawna Ray Langford, her first cousin, 30-year-old Rhonita Maria Miller, and the wife of another cousin, 29-year-old Christina Marie Langford Johnson.
LeBaron-Ramos said there needs to be changes made to ensure safety for the people who live in that area of Mexico, which she described as a "peaceful community of farmers and families."
"These communities have existed for generations down there, years and years," LeBaron-Ramos said. "And all of us, all of them, have dual nationality, and there is a need for safety. There's a huge need for security between the two governments to ensure the safety."
She said the presence of cartels in the area over the last few years has those who live there on edge.
"It's not working. There needs to be something else," LeBaron-Ramos said. "I'm not sure what it could be, but it used to be beautiful down there. Beautiful. We could walk the streets until midnight, perfectly fine. We can't do that anymore."
According to a CNN report, authorities are investigating whether the attack was the result of mistaken identity.
All nine victims were dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, LeBaron-Ramos said.
She said the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses for the children who were injured.
"Besides respecting the fact that it is a tragic time for me and my family members, Kansas City can help us by helping us pay (the medical bills)," she said.
LeBaron-Ramos said she would be traveling to Mexico for the funerals and was not concerned for her safety, saying the Mexican government has ensured safe passage between the towns and the border for those traveling there.