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Watsonville woman murdered in cockfight massacre that killed 20 in Mexico

Las Tinajas, Mex. (KION-TV) UPDATE Mar 30th, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.-- In a mass shooting at an illegal cockfighting event in Mexico 20 people were killed in a barrage of bullets Monday.

Among them was Melissa Silva who was living in Watsonville with her husband and children.

"They got ambushed by a bunch of guys with high caliber weapons," said Melissa's brother Alex Silva. "And they had really nowhere to go. They just got surrounded."

Mexican authorities said that several gunmen in camouflage clothing burst into a venue often used to hold cockfights in a stolen truck owned by a snack food company.

They blocked off all exits with a bus so nobody could escape.

Melissa Silva in Mexico.

Alex was also in Mexico at the time his older sister Melissa was killed and his younger sister Arleth was critically wounded in the mass shooting.

He was told of his sister's murder over the phone by their mother.

"She had told me that, 'Melissa... Melissa's dead. Melissa's dead. She's right in front of me,' Alex said. "I said what are you talking about she's dead? What's going on with my little sister?"

The family is raising money through a gofundme for Arleth Silva to seek medical aid in the United States and to help Melissa's four children.

The prosecutor's office told our Telemundo affiliate that the target was a known drug trafficker that was at the venue, along with innocent people.

"In less than a month, there have been two very regrettable events in Michoacan. I ask if you go to Mexico ask the consultant and embassy what the situation is like in the towns you are going to visit," said a security expert in Mexico. "Also, be very careful where you are going. People with criminal backgrounds tend to move around a lot. They are in attendance at high-profile events."

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ORIGINAL STORY

In a tragic mass shooting that took the life of 20 people in the state of Michoacan in Mexico Monday night, a Watsonville woman has been identified as a victim.

Melissa Silva, 36, of Watsonville was killed and leaves behind four children ages 20, 17, 12 and 10.

She attended the event with her sister Arleth Silva,16, who was critically injured that same night, their brother Alex Silva told Telemundo Chicago.

Arleth Silva, 16, was critically injured in the mass shooting.

Their brother said the sisters would go to Mexico two to three times a year and this time they were on vacation with their parents.

"I can't believe this happened to my little sister and my older sister. We would go to Mexico two or three times a year to visit family."

Melissa was the mother of four children and was found dead by her parents moments after the massacre.

"They arrived shortly after the bullets stopped and found my older sister was already dead," said Alex. "A meter away was my younger sister on the floor as well but she was still breathing."

Authorities were called to a venue used to host illegal betting on cockfights at around 10:30 p.m.

The attorney general's office said that the "lifeless bodies" of 16 men and three women were discovered with gunshot wounds.

Another person later died on their way to the hospital and 6 other people were wounded in the attack, according to Mexican prosecutors.

"There are indications that the attack involved a confrontation between criminal groups," the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement. It added that a team of federal investigators had been sent to the scene to capture those responsible.

Since Mexico launched anti-drug operations to fight back against cartel-related crimes in 2006 there have been 340,000 murders, most of these are blamed on fighting between criminals, according to official figures.

A gofundme has been set up to help with funeral expenses, help Melissa's children and help with Arleth's medical bills and get her back to the United States.

A correction has been made as this article originally attributed information from Telemundo Chicago that incorrectly stated Arleth was from Watsonville when Melissa Silva is the one from Watsonville. KION's independent investigation with the brother clarified the mix-up.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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