Family members speaking today, inside Mexico, insist their loved ones were intentionally targeted by a drug cartel. But Mexican officials are disputing that, saying they believe the family drove into an area where there had been a shootout between rival gangs earlier that day and were mistakenly attacked.
As officials work to piece together what happened, a community is in shock.
According to a relative of the victims, five victims called Williston home:
30-year-old Rhonita Miller, her 8-month-old twins, 12-year-old son and her 10-year-old daughter.
There are a lot of unknowns at this time, but these are the details we can confirm:
The weapons used were 223 Remington rifles — U.S. made guns. Over 200 bullets were found at the scene and local cartels are the focus of the investigation.
Mexican officials say a suspect who was arrested was not involved in the killing of three American women and six children.
Rhonita Miller and her family lived in Williston — and the Williston community is stunned by this tragedy.
“Unimaginable. That’s all I can say,” said Patti Mortenson. “I can’t imagine the sorrow that their family is feeling now. The children that escaped and it’s just awful. They need all our prayers.”
“It’s really devastating that those poor innocent children and those women lost all their lives, and they had so much life to live and it’s just horrifying to think that someone could just murder innocent children and it’s just terrible,” said Brittainy Martin.
“We have such an amazing community here,” said Blair Sheering. “We’ve all kind of banded together already, it’s a huge tragedy. I can’t even imagine the thoughts of what the little boy was going through and it’s terrible to even think about that. Our community has banded together, I think we’ve raised over $100,000 already for the family.”
The goal is $500,000.
The U.S. government has offered to help Mexico with its investigation, but Mexican officials say that they will lead the investigation on their own and will share information when it becomes available.
The Williston community is holding a candlelight vigil and memorial on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in Harmon Park.