When gunmen burst into her home, the freshly-installed mayor of Temixco, south of Mexico City, told them to leave her family alone and surrendered to them, witnesses recalled.
Gisela Mota, who lived with her parents, was still in her pajamas on Saturday morning when the masked commando jumped a wall and stormed the house.
The 33-year-old single woman’s parents were home along with her newborn nephew, whose grandmother was preparing to give him a bottle.
The assailants beat up her relatives until Mota “gave herself up so that they would let the others go,” said the mayor’s mother, Juanita Ocampo.
“I told them that if they wanted to kill me, they should kill me first,” Ocampo told reporters. “But she told them, ‘I am Gisela.’ They took her because she was very brave.”
But the triggermen pulled Mota from her bedroom, took her to the living room and killed her in front of her parents. Her desperate father ran after the killers.
Mota’s murder has become a tragic symbol of the threats mayors face across Mexico and the violence that has engulfed Morelos, where drug cartels fight turf wars while kidnapping and extorting citizens.
Mota was killed just one day after taking the oath of office amid hopes among supporters that she would fulfill her promise to curb crime in the city of 100,000, known for resorts and water slides, just two hours from Mexico City.
But the left-of-center mayor became one of the victims of the gangland violence that has plagued the city, as authorities blamed Los Rojos drug gang for her murder.
Her home stands out among the other houses in the humble neighborhood. It has a rustic wooden door and a brick oven on the patio.
Neighbors recalled that on the eve of her murder, Mota had celebrated her new job with music and dancing.
“The next morning, six shots were heard. We thought it was firecrackers. But we heard them scream that they killed Gisela,” said Pablo Ortega, a 48-year-old neighbor, who said seven armed men had arrived in a car.
Shortly after the murder, the police killed two suspects in a shootout and arrested three others, including a 17-year-old boy and a 32-year-old woman.
Morelos Governor Graco Ramirez said Los Rojos killed Mota as a warning to other mayors who back his controversial plan to place state and municipal police under a “unified command.”
Ramirez praised his late colleague from the Democratic Revolution Party as “independent and combative.”