Two suspects are in custody after six family members, including a 16-year-old mom and her baby, were gunned down in a targeted and likely gang-related “massacre,” according to the sheriff.
When the gunfire broke out on Jan. 16 in the farming community of Goshen, the 16-year-old grabbed her baby and ran, and placed her son over a fence to try to save him, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. But the gunmen approached them and shot them both in the back of the head, he said.
The other slain victims were ages 19, 49 and 52, as well as a 72-year-old grandmother, who was sleeping in her bed, Boudreaux said.
“This family was targeted by cold-blooded killers” who carried out a “cartel-like” shooting, Boudreaux said at a news conference Friday.
The suspects and two members of the victims’ family were in rival gangs, but the specific motive is not exactly clear, Boudreaux said.
Two suspects were taken into custody early Friday morning when authorities executed three search warrants as part of “Operation Nightmare,” Boudreaux said.
One was taken into custody without incident, but the second suspect “engaged in a gun battle” with ATF agents, the sheriff said.
The suspect was shot and is undergoing surgery, Boudreaux said. He’s in stable condition and expected to survive, the sheriff said.
The suspects had been under 24/7 surveillance since they were identified on Jan. 23, the sheriff said.
“The public was not at risk,” the sheriff said. “We didn’t have enough evidence … to make the arrest.”
“Once we did have the DNA information, we jumped,” he said.
Authorities also searched about eight gang-associated prison cells at the same time as the search warrants, he said.
Boudreaux pleaded with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to lift the moratorium on the death penalty, calling the suspects “baby-killing murderers.”
ABC News’ Alex Stone contributed to this report.
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