An unidentified woman was killed via gunshot today by a Border Patrol agent in Rio Bravo, Texas, according to Buzzfeed News. The report goes on to describe the events leading up to the fatality, with conflicting stories emerging and an embedded video adding even more nuance to the proceedings.
In an official press release, the Customs and Border Protection Agency claims that a lone agent was assaulted by three illegal immigrants while investigating a report of unlawful activity in a culvert by Centeno Lane. Upon arrival, the agent attempted an arrest of these three suspects and was instead attacked by the trio, wielding blunt weapons. A single shot was issued from his service weapon, fatally striking one of the suspects while the other two fled on foot. Emergency services were then called to the scene.
This rather clean-cut description of events as issued by CBP is contradicted by at least one eyewitness report of one Marta Martinez, residing nearby the scene of the incident. Claiming that she heard a gunshot just as the clock struck noon today, Martinez immediately went outside and began recording her interactions with law enforcement on the scene.
Martinez can be heard on the video asking the agents several pointed questions in Spanish. The video also illustrates an agent walking away with two suspects, handcuffed.
“I heard a Border Patrol agent screaming, ‘See what happens? See what you caused?'” Martinez told BuzzFeed News. Martinez said she saw Border Patrol agents flip the woman over, and that she was bleeding heavily from the left side of her face.
In the video, a Border Patrol agent is seen walking out of an empty building with two people in cuffs. “Why did you kill that woman? You killed her!” Martinez is heard saying to the agents. “I saw you with the gun.”
Martinez claims that when she first saw the woman, she was lying face down, motionless, on the ground. She was later flipped over by authorities on the scene which revealed to Martinez that the victim was bleeding profusely from the side of her face. It was clear that she was dead.
Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers are conducting investigations into the matter.
There has been increased conflict between border agents and illegal immigrants seeking entry into the United States over the past year, with data released by the CBP corroborating this claim. Their statistics indicate that assaults on border patrol agents have risen sharply by about 73 percent, with 454 recorded in 2016 and 786 in 2017. This data is heavily disputed by Debbie Nathan of The Intercept, where she states that these numbers are exaggerated by potentially dishonest recollections of what constitutes an individual assault. The truth may lie with one side or the other or may lie between the two extremes.
No matter what metric one is using to judge today’s tragedy, it cannot be denied that continued border tensions are bad for both would-be border crossers and the law enforcement agents tasked with preventing them from doing so.