President Trump referred to as it proof of the want to create a wall Senator Ted Cruz said it was a “stark reminder” of insecurity along the border.
To everybody, it seemed like a horrendous example of the dangers that border patrol officers face as they cover vast, remote and unforgiving territories.
But a month after a middle-of-the-evening incident in which 1 border patrol agent was killed and yet another, who is said to have no memory of what occurred, was severely injured, no 1 appears to know how the males came into harm’s way off an interstate in West Texas.
It was initially believed to be an attack, possibly by migrants or drug smugglers. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation says it also was possible the males have been hurt accidentally. The Culberson County Sheriff, Oscar Carrillo, who is assisting with the investigation, seemed to favor that theory when he told The Dallas Morning News that the males could have been hit by a truck driving along the interstate next to exactly where they had been located.
“If this was an assault, think me, as sheriff, I’d be the first 1 out there emphasizing safety in our community and with our deputies, pairing them up,” he told the newspaper. “But from what I know and see, that was not the case here.”
That hypothesis has angered the border agents’ union, The National Border Patrol Council, whose leadership fiercely insists that the males had been attacked. Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the organization, went as far as to contact Sheriff Carrillo a “dingbat” on his weekly podcast.
“All these other theories, it’s tarnishing the name of our agents,” he stated in an interview.
The quick, politicized reactions from President Trump, Senator Cruz and other elected officials have died down, as weeks have passed without having any much more clarity as to what happened.
It was just following 11 p.m. on Nov. 18, when, according to the F.B.I., the two agents at the heart of the mystery responded to unspecified “activity” close to a culvert, or drainage tunnel, that carries water underneath Interstate 10 close to Van Horn.
One particular of the agents, Stephen Garland, then known as for aid. When colleagues arrived, they discovered each guys with key head injuries and broken bones, and took them to a neighborhood hospital. The men had been flown to a larger hospital in El Paso, exactly where the other agent, Rogelio Martinez, died early the subsequent morning.
Right away afterward, the F.B.I. said that it would spearhead an inquiry into the incident, which they have been treating as a “potential assault against a federal officer,” according to Jeanette Harper, a spokeswoman for the agency. Assaults against Customs and Border Protection officers, including Border Patrol agents, reached 720 in the 2017 fiscal year, the most in at least 5 years, according to data from the agency.
Ms. Harper stated the F.B.I. had collected forensic proof that was getting analyzed at its laboratory in Quantico, Va., and was also “aggressively” following up on leads that came into the agency’s tip line.
A single of these led to a search warrant becoming issued for a car belonging to two brothers. But later, Ms. Harper, the F.B.I. spokeswoman, mentioned the agency had not arrested any individual, or even identified anyone “of interest,” in the investigation, suggesting that the tip about the brothers might not have proved fruitful.
Angie Ochoa, who was engaged to marry Mr. Martinez when he died, said she even went to the scene of the incident, escorted by one of her fiancé’s co-workers, after she became fed up with the shifting accounts of what may possibly have happened. “None of it produced sense, so I wanted to see for myself,” she said.
Component of the challenge of establishing what precisely happened to the males is the remoteness of their perform. Border agents patrol rocky deserts, typically in the middle of the night, where there are really handful of, if any, other individuals around. The incident in November occurred outdoors a tiny town of much less than two,000 folks. The other agent, Mr. Garland, who has been released from the hospital, is said to have no memory of what occurred.
Mr. Martinez’s father, Jose Martinez, mentioned in an interview shortly after his son died that soon after seeing his son in the hospital, he believed the injuries had been too serious to have been brought on by an accident. “I think an individual place a trap,” he stated. The elder Mr. Martinez stated he had frequently worried about his son functioning alone in the middle of the evening.
Another sign of the uncertainty surrounding the case can be discovered in the descriptions of the rewards provided by the F.B.I. and the state of Texas.
The state is providing $20,000 for details “leading to the “arrest and conviction of the particular person or persons responsible for the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the significant injury of yet another.”
The F.B.I.’s $50,000 reward is for “information major to the resolution of this case.”
Published at Mon, 25 Dec 2017 23:ten:56 +0000