United States Customs and Border Protection on Friday released a slightly different account of a border agent’s fatal shooting of an undocumented migrant near Laredo, Texas, raising new questions about what actually happened.
After initially reporting the agent was attacked by migrants armed with “blunt objects,” the federal agency on Friday said only that the group “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.
But its latest version of events makes no mention of blunt objects described in an agency statement issued after Wednesday’s shooting in the border town of Rio Bravo.
Additionally, the Border Patrol at first reported that a round from the officer’s gun “fatally wounded one of the assailants” but the latest statement refers to the gunshot victim as a “member of the group.”
Customs and Border Protection on Friday canceled a new conference on the shooting and instead released its updated statement.
An agency spokesman declined to comment further, saying the shooting was being investigated by the FBI and the Texas Rangers. An FBI spokesman also said the agency had no comment due to the ongoing investigation.
The woman who was killed was identified as Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, of San Juan Ostuncalco in Guatemala, Webb County Medical Examiner Corrine Stern said Friday. The cause of death was not released.
The victim’s family held a news conference in Guatemala and asked for justice. “It’s not fair that they treat them like animals, just because they come from countries less developed,” Gomez’s aunt said.
The family said the young woman had just turned 20, had graduated after studying accounting, and had headed to the United States when she could not find a job in Guatemala.
According to the family, the victim had a phone number with her of a family in the US, and the Border Patrol called that number to report that Gomez was dead. The family that received the call in the US then called her family in Guatemala to let them know.
Marta Martinez, who lives near the scene of the shooting, told CNN that she ran out of her home after hearing a gunshot. She said she didn’t hear yelling or orders to stop or a commotion before the shot rang out.
Martinez later saw an officer turn over the body of a young woman, in her early 20s, who was face-down in the ground. she said.
The young woman’s face was covered with dirt on one side and blood on the other, according to Martinez, who recorded the aftermath of the shooting on her cell phone and posted videos on Facebook Live.
Martinez said she later saw a Border Patrol statement claiming the migrants tried to the hit the agent with “a two-by-four,” referring to a piece of lumber.
“There are no two-by-fours there,” she said. “It’s only grass and some branches.”
In the video, a uniformed man is seen giving someone on the ground chest compressions but Martinez said the woman appeared to be dead.
In a vacant lot near her home, Martinez said an agent captured two men who ran from the scene after the shooting. Martinez said she heard the officer tell the men: “This is what happens. You see?”
The Border Patrol said agents arrested three undocumented immigrants.
In her video, Martinez can be heard yelling in Spanish at the officer who led the men to his vehicle: “Why do you mistreat them? Why did you shot the girl? You killed her. He killed the girl. She’s there. She’s dead. I saw you with the gun, bro.”
Martinez said she was afraid because Border Patrol agents have been stopping outside her home since her posts appeared on Facebook.
“I recorded,” she said. “I went viral everywhere. I don’t know but I’m scared they could do something to us.”
Martinez said an FBI agent came to speak with her about the shooting.
The name of the agent who fired the shot has not been released.
The Border Patrol said the agent , a 15-year veteran, was responding to a report of illegal activity near a culvert and discovered a group of undocumented immigrants about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has called for all border agents to begin wearing body cameras.
Rio Bravo is on the border with Mexico, about 170 miles south of San Antonio.
The shooting occurred a month after President Donald Trump ordered the deployment of National Guard troops as part of his crackdown on unauthorized immigration across the US-Mexico border.