Six people, including a 6-month old baby, her teenage mother and an elderly woman, were killed Monday in a Central Valley farming community in what the local sheriff said was likely a targeted attack by a drug cartel.
The massacre occurred around 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning in and around a residence in the Tulare County town of Goshen - a mostly Latino community of about 5,000.
Search Warrant Carried Out at Same Home Last Week
Responding deputies found six victims total, including two who were in the street and one who was in the doorway of the home where the gunfire occurred, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told reporters at the scene.
Authorities did not release the names or ages of all the victims but said it appeared that some were from the same family. The mother, who was 17, and the child were both shot in the head, he said.
An elderly woman discovered dead in a bed also was shot in the head and is believed to have been shot in her sleep. Three other men were also killed. One was alive when deputies arrived. He was given CPR and taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries later.
Two women survived the attack by hiding in a trailer on the property. 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," he said.
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 the same home that resulted in one arrest and the seizure of guns, marijuana and methamphetamine.
A Cartel-Style Execution
"I think it's specifically connected to the cartel," Boudreaux said without specifying a particular criminal organization. "The level of violence ... this was not your run-of-the-mill, low-end gang member."
The "manner and swiftness" of the attacks suggested experienced killers, Boudreaux said. "If [they] are specifically shooting everyone in the head, they know what they are doing ... [and] they are comfortable with what they are doing," the sheriff said.
"We believe this is very targeted. This is very personal and we also believe this is a message being sent," Boudreaux added.
Tulare County Sheriff's spokesperson Ashley Schwarm told CNN on Monday evening that while they cannot confirm the shooters were from a cartel, the sheriff thinks it appears to be a "cartel-style execution."