Move came a week after nine women and children were killed by hit men from drug cartels
An 18-vehicle caravan carrying about 100 members of a Mormon community leaving their homes in Mexico after a violent attack arrived in Arizona on Saturday.
The families came nearly a week after the attack on Monday in which nine women and children were killed by what authorities said were hit men from drug cartels.
On Saturday, families went in and out of a gas station in Douglas near the port of entry as the sun began to set, the Arizona Daily Star reported. They filled up on gas, put air in their tires and got food before getting back on the road to Tucson and Phoenix.
Their trucks were loaded with boxes, bicycles, spare tires and bags, as they left the communities in Mexico their families have called home since the 1950s.
The families had lived in two hamlets in Mexicos Sonora state: La Mora and Colonia LeBaron. Other residents of the hamlets planned to leave in the coming days.
Mondays attack occurred as women traveled with children to visit relatives.
The spread-out community traces its origins to the end of polygamy more than a century ago, forcing Mormon families in the US with multiple wives to establish offshoots elsewhere.
Bryce Langford, whose mother was killed, told the Daily Star he was on his way to visit his brother at a hospital in Tucson. Dawna Ray Langford, 43, was killed with two of her sons, aged 11 and two. She is survived by 11 children and her husband, Bryce Langford said.
Of the children who escaped, one was shot in the face, another in the foot. One girl suffered gunshot wounds to her back and foot. Another of Langfords brothers hid six children in brush and walked to La Mora for help.
Were very proud of him, Langford said. To be able to make those kind of decisions under those circumstances is something not a lot of people can say they can do.
A girl first listed as missing walked off in another direction, despite her gunshot wounds, to get help.
Langford said the community has learned more about cartel hit men in the area in recent months, and people had been considering moving. After Mondays ambush, they decided it was something they had to do. Most of the families are traveling to Phoenix, and others are heading to Tucson. They are not sure where they will settle down in the long term, Langford said.
Leah Langford-Staddon told the Associated Press her mother and another sister, Amy, came to Arizona with as many belongings as they could pack. Langford-Staddon said those leaving plan to scatter among their different relatives for now but would love to settle together in a new place.
They spent the whole day yesterday packing. It was frantic, she said by phone from Tucson, where she is standing watch at a hospital treating five wounded children.
Those who left made a quick decision, Langford-Staddon said, adding: When it comes down to it, its just things that can be replaced.
The population of La Mora had dwindled, with some only visiting a few times a year, Langford-Staddon said. Bryce Langford, who was raised in La Mora but now lives in North Dakota, said it wasnt easy for his relatives to leave land they have called home for more than 50 years.
The assets that theyve acquired down there are tremendous, he said. And to have to up and leave from one day to the next and leave all that behind, theres definitely a lot of sad people here.