CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen killed a U.S. consulate employee and her husband as they drove in this violent border city with their baby in the back seat, minutes after the husband of another consular employee was shot to death and his two children wounded. Security forces suspected a drug gang hit, but offered no motive Sunday.
President Barack Obama was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the killings, the White House said. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said he was indignant and promised a swift investigation.
The gunmen are suspected of belonging to a gang of hit men tied to the Juarez drug cartel, according to a statement from the joint mission of soldiers and federal police overseeing security in Ciudad Juarez. The statement said the theory was based on "information exchanged with U.S. federal agencies" helping in the investigation.
But police gave no information on a possible motive. U.S. State Department spokesman Fred Lash said the three slain people had attended the same social event before the attacks Saturday.
Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico's drug war, most of them people with family ties to Mexico. It is rare for American government employees to be targeted, although assailants hurled grenades at the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey in 2008.
Civilians have increasingly gotten caught in the middle of drug gang violence that has made Ciudad Juarez one of the deadliest cities in the world, with more than 2,500 killed last year. At least 11 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend.
The three died during a particularly bloody weekend in Mexico, with nearly 50 people killed in apparent gang violence. Nine people were killed in a gang shootout early Sunday in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
The State Department authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad Juarez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send family members out of the area because of rising drug violence concerns. The cities are Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.
The consulate employee and her husband, both U.S. citizens, were shot Saturday afternoon in their car near the Santa Fe International bridge linking Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas, said Vladimir Tuexi, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutors office. The woman was shot in the head and her husband in his neck and arm. Their baby was found unharmed in the back seat. Tuexi estimated the child was about 1.
They were identified as consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez, 35, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, by Robert Cason, Redelfs' stepfather. Redelfs was a detention officer at the El Paso County Jail, he said. The U.S. government had not described Enriquez's job at the consulate, and Cason said he didn't know what she did.
Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, 37, a Mexican citizen, was shot in his car, and his children, ages 4 and 7, were wounded, according to the state prosecutors office. The children were hospitalized.