In what has been deemed a tragic and fatal error, elements of the Mexican Army opened fire on a vehicle whose driver ignored orders to stop in a military checkpoint.
The incident resulted in the death of a father and son and five family members injured.
The events occurred shortly after 10:00 p.m. Sunday on the Monterrey-Laredo highway in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon.
Officials close to the investigation stated a convoy of soldiers ordered the driver of a gray Malibu to stop, when the driver ignored their orders, a persecution was initiated, which later led to the military opening fire on the vehicle.
It wasn't until the vehicle stopped and soldiers moved in to investigate that they realized their error. Six family members were injured and a 15 year old boy who had been in the backseat was killed instantly.
After calling Red Cross and state and federal officials, the site was immediately secured by the same military elements involved in the incident.
First to arrive at the scene was the Red Cross who reported the injury of two men, two women, and two children. Due to the nature of their injuries, one man and one women were immediately transported to a local hospital while paramedics continued evaluating the other four. The lifeless body of 15 year old Gabriel Alejandro Castellanos León was laid out to the side of the vehicle to await ministerial police and forensic authorities.
Hours after the incident it was established that one of the men injured was identified as 52 year old Vicente Leon Ramirez, father of the deceased teen, Alejandro Gabriel. His death, caused by a gunshot wound to the lower spine and two to his left arm, was reported shortly after 2:00 a.m.
His wife, Patricia Castellanos Corpus, 45, who was hospitalized for a bullet in the left shoulder, stated they never saw a military checkpoint and were unaware of any attempt by the military to detain them until after the persecution had began and the soldiers began shooting.
Also identified were Iliana León Castellanos, 24, and Tomas Guadalupe Rodríguez Hernández, aged 28. The woman, who is the daughter of Vicente and Patricia, had one gunshot wound in the face. Her husband presented four gunshot wounds, three to the spine, which doctor's determined too risky to remove, and one to the head.
Tomas Guadalupe, 9, and Victor Eduardo Rodriguez de Leon, 8, children of Iliana and Tomas Guadalupe each suffered suffered injuries caused by shattering glass. Both children, as well as their grandmother, Patricia, have since been treated and released from the hospital.
José Luis de León Castellano, son and brother of the deceased, stated in a phone interview, his mother, sister, and brother-in-law who was driving the vehicle, declared the military opened fire not because of an ignored checkpoint, but because the family had attempted to pass a moving military convoy.
militares atacan a familia
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The Attorney General of Military Justice initiated a preliminary inquiry to investigate the events. In a press release, the Ministry of National Defense said today the troops involved are members of a Base of Operations within the Permanent Campaign Against Drug Trafficking and Federal Law Enforcement of Firearms and Explosives.
"The Ministry of Defense expresses the deepest condolences to the families of those killed in these acts, and reaffirms its commitment to the citizens to act in strict accordance with the rule of law and respect for human rights."
In a live press conference, the Secretary General of Nuevo Leon, Javier Treviño Cantú, announced the position of the Mexican army, whose commanders of the Seventh military zone was present at the meeting, and stated that it would punish those responsible for the incident.
Cantu Treviño announced the State will pay all hospital and funeral expenses incurred by the family.
The National Human Rights Commission has launched a formal complaint and has deployed personnel to contact the family to gather testimonies and assist the family legally, medically, and emotionally in this time of tragedy.