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Search for suspects continues in California ‘massacre’ that killed six

The crime unit of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office removes the body of one of the victims at the scene of a shooting in Goshen, Calif. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/AP)

A 16-year-old mother appeared to have been “running for her life” while clutching her 10-month-old baby when both were shot in the head and killed “assassination-style” outside a home early Monday in California’s Central Valley, two of the six victims of what the local sheriff described as a “specific, targeted massacre” possibly carried out by a gang or drug cartel.

Authorities continued to search for at least two suspects in the deadly slayings in Goshen, Calif., a rural farming community about 35 miles southwest of Fresno, pressing local residents to send in tips or any home security video that might have captured footage of the suspected assailants. But they offered no descriptions of the suspects and declined to comment on a potential motive, saying they did not want to tip off the killers about the progress of the investigation.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux named the six victims in Monday’s attack: Rosa Parraz, 72; Eladio Parraz Jr., 52; Jennifer Analla, 50; Marcos Parraz, 19; Alissa Parraz, 16; and Nycholas Parraz, 10 months. He described them as relatives who were killed by execution-style “kill shots” — including to the head and other areas of the body that would lead to a “quick death,” a method that he said led him to believe the killers “knew what they were doing.”

“This was not a random act of violence. This was a very specific targeted act of violence,” Boudreaux said Tuesday. “None of this was by accident.”

Officers responded to a 911 call received just after 3:30 a.m. Monday reporting a volley of gunfire. Arriving on the scene within seven minutes, they encountered a horrific scene of multiple fatalities — including the bodies of the Alissa Parraz, who was found clutching her son, Nycholas, in a ditch “down the street” from the home where authorities believe she was running to escape the killers.

Another victim was found in the doorway of the home and three others were inside — including Rosa Parraz, Alissa’s grandmother, who authorities believe was shot and killed while sleeping. All were dead, except for man who later died at a hospital.

At least three people at the scene survived by hiding from the gunmen, Boudreaux said Tuesday, including a man who ran into a room and used his legs to brace the door as he heard the killers walking up a hallway and firing at other victims. At one point, the man told police, he watched as one of the gunmen rattled the doorknob in an effort to open the door before giving up. Two others survived by hiding in a trailer on the property.

On Tuesday, Boudreaux noted the speed of the attack, saying the suspects were gone by the time officers arrived. He repeatedly declined to comment about the potential target or motive of the attack, but he said the house had been subject of a search warrant on Jan. 3, when officers on a “parole compliance check” had observed spent shell casings on the property and seized multiple guns as well as marijuana and other drugs. A man, whom the sheriff did not identify, was arrested but later released on bail. It was not clear if the man was one of the victims.

On Monday, Boudreaux initially speculated the killings were a cartel hit, but the sheriff dialed that back on Tuesday, saying it was something investigators were looking into.

“I’m not saying that this is a cartel, but also to be clear, I am not eliminating that possibility,” Boudreaux said. “These people were clearly shot in the head and they were also shot in places that the shooter would know that quick death would occur.”

But while the property was “known” to local law enforcement, Boudreaux emphasized that he was not saying all of those killed had affiliations with gangs or bad actors. He pointedly described Alissa Parraz and her son as well as Rosa Parraz, the grandmother, as “innocent victims” in a brutal killing that had stunned even investigators accustomed to grisly scenes of violence.

“It was deliberate, intentional and horrific,” Boudreaux told reporters Tuesday, as he stood flanked by state and federal investigators who are assisting with the case, calling the case one of the most “egregious” acts of violence that he’d ever seen.