Authorities were searching southwest Texas for suspects or witnesses after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner injured Sunday while on patrol in the state’s Big Bend area, officials said.
Agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were “responding to activity” near Interstate 10 in Van Horn, Tex., when both were seriously injured, according to a Customs and Border Protection news release.
Martinez’s partner called for help. Other agents arrived, provided medical care and took them to a hospital.
Martinez died of his injuries; his partner, who was not identified, remained in the hospital in serious condition, officials said.
Martinez, a 36-year-old from El Paso, had been a border agent since August 2013.
Jeannette Harper of the FBI’s El Paso field office told the San Antonio Express-News that authorities were still gathering evidence. She said reports that the agents were shot were not true, but that a full account of what happened wouldn’t be released until Monday.
“They were not fired upon,” Harper said.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to offer any further details about what happened.
But a National Border Patrol Council labor union official said Martinez may have been killed in a rock attack.
Art Del Cueto, the union’s vice president, said he has heard from other Border Patrol agents that Martinez and his partner were believed to be responding to an electronic sensor that had been activated.
Del Cueto said he was told that Martinez and his partner apparently did not sustain bullet or stab wounds — so he suspects the pair may have been attacked with rocks, which are commonly thrown at agents working in that area.
“It’s heartbreaking; it’s truly heartbreaking,” he told The Washington Post on Monday in a phone interview.
President Trump appeared to connect Martinez’s death to border security and plugged his plans for a border wall Sunday night on Twitter.
After border agent is killed and partner injured in Texas, Trump renews call for wall
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