Family tells how 13-year-old boy hid siblings in Mexico massacre

BAVISPE, Mexico, Nov 6 (Reuters) - After watching gunmen shoot dead his mother and two brothers, 13-year-old Devin Langford hid six surviving siblings in nearby bushes and walked for miles in a rugged expanse of northern Mexico to get help.

The harrowing account was given by members of three Mexican-American Mormon families that suffered a brutal attack by suspected drug cartel hitmen on Monday which claimed the lives of three women and six children and sparked outrage and condemnation in the United States.

The families, members of breakaway Mormon communities that settled in northern Mexico decades ago, were set upon as they drove along a remote dirt road in Sonora state.

Following the attack, Devin, who was uninjured, set off alone in rough, mountainous terrain, walking 14 miles (23 km) to look for help, the families said in a statement.

"After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Dawna (Langford)'s son Devin hid his six other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help," the account states. For 11 hours, the relatives had no idea about what had happened to their loved ones.

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TOPSHOT - Members of the Lebaron family mourn while they watch the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Map locates the site of the cartel killings of at least nine US citizens in the Mexican state of Sonoma;
A member of the Lebaron family looks at the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
This frame from Nov. 4, 2019, video by Kenny Miller and posted on the Twitter account of Alex LeBaron shows a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the LeBaron family as they were driving in a convoy near the Sonora-Chihuahua border in Mexico. Mexican authorities say drug cartel gunmen ambushed multiple vehicles, including this one, slaughtering several women and children. (Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP)
This frame from Nov. 4, 2019, video by Kenny Miller and posted on the Twitter account of Alex LeBaron shows a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the LeBaron family as they were driving in a convoy near the Sonora-Chihuahua state border in Mexico. Mexican authorities say drug cartel gunmen ambushed multiple vehicles, including this one, slaughtering several women and children. (Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP)
People stand near the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the Lebaron family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Herika MARTINEZ / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: byline should read [Herika MARTINEZ] instead of [STRINGER]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
This photo shows a view of the car where part of the nine murdered members of the LeBaron family were killed during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Herika MARTINEZ / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: byline should read [Herika MARTINEZ] instead of [STRINGER]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of the Lebaron family look at the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard is pictured in the place where members of the Lebaron family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Chihuahua state police officers man a checkpoint in Janos, Chihuahua state, northern Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering six children and three women, all U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
A car passes through Colonia LeBaron, one of many locations where the extended LeBaron family lives in the Galeana municipality of Chihuahua state in northern Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed on Monday three vehicles along a road near the state border of Chihuahua and Sonora, slaughtering at least six children and three women from the extended LeBaron family, all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
In this photo provided by the Sonora state Health Secretary, children of the extended LeBaron family, who were injured in an ambush are taken aboard a Mexican Airforce helicopter to be flown to the Mexico-U.S. border, from the border between the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora, Monday, Nov.4, 2019. The children were injured when drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering six children and three women, all U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk. (Sonora state Health Secretary via AP)
People walk into the emergency room at the hospital treating some of the children injured in an ambush on members of the American Mormon community near the US-Mexico border, in Tucson, Arizona, on November 5, 2019. - Gunmen ambushed the members of the LeBaron family -- a large clan of Mormons who emigrated to Mexico in the late 19th century -- on a rural road on November 4, between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, which border the United States. US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Sébastien VUAGNAT / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN VUAGNAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Madelyn Staddon, right, a relative of some of the members of a Mormon community who were attacked while traveling near the US-Mexico border, embraces a neighbor outside her home, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Queen Creek, Ariz. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three vehicles along a road near the state border of Chihuahua and Sonora on Monday, slaughtering at least six children and three women from the extended LeBaron family, all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Austin Cloes points to a photo of relatives Rhonita Miller and her family, who were killed in Mexico, on a computer screen Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Herriman, Utah. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering at least six children and three women all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk, authorities said Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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The three mothers and 14 children were in three vehicles that left from a small village in Sonora to meet with relatives in neighboring Chihuahua state and Phoenix, Arizona.

The murders sparked immediate calls from U.S. President Donald Trump for Mexico to join forces with the United States to crack down on drug gangs amid mounting concerns over security after a string of mass killings in the past few weeks.

On the defensive, Mexico has countered by urging the U.S. government to help stop the flow of arms south of the border.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo stressed that Remington shell casings of U.S. origin were found at the crime scene.

"That's one of the most relevant details we can give you," he told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

No official explanation has been given for the killings, though the Mexican government said the victims may have been caught in the crossfire of a bloody turf war between an arm of the Sinaloa Cartel and its rival, the Juarez Cartel.

Relatives of the dead have dismissed the notion that the women and children could have been targeted due to mistaken identity in a shooting spree that authorities said left more than 200 military-grade shell casings behind.

The mothers of the Langford, Miller and Johnson families were driving separate SUVs when the gunmen opened fire. All three mothers lost their lives in the slaughter.

The youngest of Devin's siblings, 9-month old Oliver, was shot in the chest; 8-year-old Cody had bullet wounds to the jaw and the leg, while Xander, 4, had been hit in the back. Brothers Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, lay dead.

When Devin failed to return, his 9-year-old sister Mckenzie, who was grazed in the arm, went after him and walked 10 miles before getting lost in the dark. Search parties later found her, the families said. Another sister, Kylie, was shot in the foot, while sibling Ryder was uninjured.

Nearby, the attack on the vehicle transporting the Miller family had claimed five lives; mother Rhonita, and four children, including 8-month old twins Titus and Tiana.

"All shot and burned in their vehicle," the families' statement said. "Only ashes and a few bones remain." (Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Bavispe Additional reporting by Sharay Angulo in Mexico City Editing by Dave Graham and Rosalba O'Brien)

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