Monday, October 25, 2010
"They're Civilians...Don't Shoot!" family killed as warning goes unheard
The daughter and two grandchildren of Eleazar Galindo, former mayor of Saltillo, were massacred in a crossfire between cartel assassins, federal agents and an elite group of State police as one agent desperately tried to advise others they were civilians.
The deadly confusion, which took place in Coahuila, was the end result of almost three hours of chaotic confrontations and pursuits between a convoy of special state, federal, and military units and armed drug gangs.
María Angélica Galindo Sánchez, aged 47, and her two children Ricardo Siller Galindo, 14, and Karen Alejandra, 18, who were traveling in an SUV similar to that used by the sicarios were killed in the attack.
María Angélica, after having been shot numerous times, continued to drive the Avalanche pickup truck more than 540 meters in attempt to get her children to safety. Investigative reports state she received 10 bullet wounds; Ricardo 6, and Karen Alejandra 6. Both Mother and daughter died on the way to hospital, Ricardo was pronounced dead at the scene.
At about 02:00 am Sunday a Tactical and Strategic Task Force (GATE) agent warned his colleagues about the presence of civilians on the scene, reported prosecutor Jesus Torres Charles.
"They're civilians, let them pass through", he shouted after having asked María Angélica to stop and wait in her vehicle while the convoy passed through. Unfortunately at the same time detonations were heard and the police opened fire on the Avalanche, which was in the same direction as were the gunmen, said the prosecutor.
Although the convoy, which was made up of 96 mixed troops, was in pursuit of three gunmen in a Nissan, the prosecutor stated "they(the sicarios) are known to use a common urban combat guerrilla tactic. They disperse and regroup."
"The only thing at this time that seems certain is that the soldiers who made up part of the convoy were the only ones who did not fire," the prosecutor said.
209 shots fired
Torres Charles said 209 shell casings were found at the scene, of which 20 are 7.62 caliber from "AK-47" weapons used by the gunmen. The rest are .223 caliber, used for AR-15 rifles, which are used by cartel gunmen and both federal and state law enforcement. He did, however, clarify that there are more shell casings to be processed.
Although the prosecutor did not specify the number of impacts on the Siller Galindo family vehicle, he did state there were over 30.
Torres Charles mentioned a member of the prosecutor's office and a civilian were also injured during the confrontations which began at 11:40 p.m. Saturday and ended at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.
He stated the Siller Galindo family had absolutely no involvement in the attack. "They had the misfortune of passing through at the wrong time, in a vehicle which was unfortunately similar to one which was involved in earlier attacks, nothing more."
At this time, prosecutors are following two lines of investigation: One is that the Siller Galindo family was simply caught in chaotic crossfire, and the other is that police officers purposely opened fire on the vehicle after having mistaken them for gunmen.
The Prosecutor reported that a friend of Maria Angélica's also traveling in the Siller Galindo family vehicle was unhurt in the attack.