Two men suspected of slaying four generations of the same family, including a 10-month-old baby, were captured on Friday near the house where the grisly crime occurred last month in the Central Valley of California, according to the authorities.
The attack in the wee hours of Jan. 16 left six people dead after they were shot execution-style at close range, a set of killings so brutal that residents accustomed to local gang violence said they were in disbelief. A 16-year-old and her baby boy were shot in the head after trying to flee. The victims also included a 72-year-old grandmother and a 19-year-old man who enjoyed playing video games late at night.
Angel “Nanu” Uriarte, 35, was arrested on Friday morning after a gunfight with federal officers in Goshen, the tiny town along Highway 99 where the murders took place. Noah David Beard, 25, was taken into custody without incident in Visalia, the city next to Goshen in Tulare County. Mr. Uriarte, who was injured in the shooting with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was rushed to a hospital where he remained in stable condition.
The Tulare County district attorney’s office has charged both suspects, who have criminal histories, with six counts of murder and other “special allegations,” including committing murder to further the activities of street gangs and using firearms despite being prohibited to own them as felons.
During a news conference, Mike Boudreaux, the Tulare County sheriff, described the men as “validated” members of the Norteños gang, which dominates the area. After bursting into the house at 3:38 a.m., they killed their first victim, Eladio Parraz Jr., 52, a member of the rival Sureños gang, the sheriff said.
He said that the motive for the killings was “not exactly clear,” and that the investigations would continue. At least two people on the property where the shooting occurred survived the attack and provided crucial information to law enforcement.
Mr. Boudreaux said that a multiagency effort involving more than 100 agents had led to the arrests. After identifying the two suspects, law enforcement officials conducted round-the-clock surveillance of them, starting a week after the shooting.
“We knew every move they were making,” Mr. Boudreaux said at the sheriff’s headquarters in Visalia. “We had them under our wing, exactly where we wanted them.’
“Once we had DNA information, we jumped,” he said. He asserted that he believed the two suspects were the sole perpetrators of the crime.
Mr. Boudreaux said the authorities executed search warrants at three locations in Goshen and Visalia on Friday morning, as well as at state prisons, targeting inmates linked to the Nuestra Familia prison gang, which has ties to the Norteños.
Gangs have been present for decades in California, and active members on the streets often answer to leaders who are incarcerated.
In Tulare County alone, a sprawling agricultural area that is home to 480,000 people, about 900 gangs have been documented.
Though gang violence is now entrenched in the Central Valley, California’s agricultural heartland, the horrific murders targeting an entire family, including innocent women and an infant, shook Goshen, a working-class town of 5,000, and reverberated across the nation.
“This family was targeted by coldblooded killers,” the sheriff said.
Since the slayings, Mr. Boudreaux has repeatedly called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to lift a moratorium on the death penalty that he imposed in 2019. When asked on Wednesday whether he would do so for this case, Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, responded only that the assailants should be caught and the case closed.
“Governor, we arrested the perpetrators. We are asking you to do your part,” the sheriff said on Friday.
Mr. Boudreaux said that the 16-year-old, Alissa Parraz, had fled with her baby, Nycholas, when she heard gunfire. Surveillance video played at the news conference showed her placing her son on the other side of a fence and leaping over. Then, both mother and infant were shot in the back of their heads by Mr. Beard, the sheriff said, and found dead in the street by the police.
The gunmen also killed Mr. Parraz’s mother, Rosa Parraz, 72, when she was on her knees, the sheriff said. The other victims were Mr. Parraz’s son, Marcos Parraz, 19, who was not in a gang; and Mr. Parraz’s girlfriend, Jennifer Analla, 50, who was asleep when she was murdered, the sheriff said.
Police had visited the family’s home with a drug search warrant a week before the ambush and found marijuana, methamphetamine and weapons. The 52-year-old Mr. Parraz, a felon, was arrested and released four days later after posting bail.
More than 30,000 gangs, representing more than one million people, operate in the United States, according to the F.B.I. The groups have increased their sophistication, organization and mobility in recent years. They also work closely with Mexican drug cartels that control the export of illicit substances to the United States across its southern border.
In the Central Valley, cartels are believed to collaborate with local Latino, Black and Asian criminal organizations that often buy drugs wholesale from them.
The Norteños and Sureños gangs have deployed members across the United States to expand their territory and increase drug sales. As a result, many suburban and rural areas face problems similar to those once confined to big cities.
Court documents charged Mr. Uriarte and Mr. Beard with carrying out the crime with “planning, sophistication and professionalism.” It said that Mr. Beard had prior convictions as an adult and had juvenile delinquency proceedings that were “numerous and of increasing seriousness,” including allegations of robbery and assault.
Mr. Uriarte was convicted in 2015 of assault with a firearm in the course of gang-related criminal activity.
The killings in Goshen, an impoverished town sandwiched between farmland and warehouses in the fertile San Joaquin Valley, were among a spate of mass shootings in California over an eight-day span last month.
On Jan. 21, 11 people were killed and nine injured by a gunman at a ballroom dancing hall in Monterey Park, outside Los Angeles. Two days later, seven farm workers were killed and one injured in Half Moon Bay, where San Mateo County authorities arrested a fellow worker in the mass shooting.
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.