VISALIA, Calif., - A shooter stood over a 16-year-old mother clutching her 10-month-old baby and pumped bullets into their heads in a brazen attack in a central California farming community that left six dead at a home linked to drugs and guns, a sheriff said Tuesday.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the teenager was fleeing the violence early Monday when the killers caught up to her outside a home in Goshen, a central California community of about 3,000 residents in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, and shot the young mother and her child "assassination-style."
The other four victims ranged from 19 to 72 years old, including a grandmother who was shot as she slept. Their autopsies are expected to be completed later in the week.
"None of this was by accident," Boudreaux said during a news conference Tuesday. "It was deliberate, intentional and horrific."
Boudreaux said that the home is linked to gangs and drugs but on Tuesday he walked back his earlier comments to reporters that the violence was likely a cartel hit, saying that investigators are still looking into that possibility.
He added that not everyone who was shot was a drug dealer or gang member — and said that among the victims believed to be innocent are the teen, her grandmother, and of course, the baby.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the suspects’ arrests.
Samuel Pina said his granddaughter, 16-year-old Alissa Parraz, and her 10-month-old baby, Nycholas Nolan Parraz, were among those killed.
"I can’t wrap my head around what kind of monster would do this," he told The Associated Press on Monday.
Pina said Parraz and her baby were living with her father’s side of the family in Goshen, and that her dad’s uncle, her dad’s cousin, her grandmother and her great-grandmother were also killed.
He said the family is in shock.
"It comes in big waves," he said.
Authorities received a call at 3:38 a.m. Monday about multiple shots being fired — so many that it initially seemed like an active shooter situation — at the residence in unincorporated Goshen, some 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Fresno.
It was later determined the person who made the call was someone hiding at the property. Deputies arrived seven minutes later and found two bodies outside the home in the street, and a third body at the doorstep, Boudreaux said.
Deputies found more victims inside the home, including the grandmother who was shot while sleeping in her bed. Down the street they discovered the teen mom and her baby. A forensics investigation revealed she had tried to run away before the shooter caught up with her and stood over her and fired multiple rounds into her skull, Boudreaux said.
"It is very clear that this family was a target," he said.
Three people survived and will be interviewed by authorities. They include a man who hid in the home as the killings happened.
"He was in such a state of fear that all he could do was hold the door, hoping he was not the next victim," Boudreaux said.
Rural California is no stranger to drug-related violence. In 2020, seven people were fatally shot in a small, rural Riverside County town where the property had been used for an illegal marijuana growing operation — a common practice in that area.
The following year, a man accidentally shot himself while working at his family’s illegal marijuana grow in Butte County’s Forbestown. His father and two brothers were accused of moving his body to prevent investigators from discovering the grow site.