Border Patrol changes explanation on events leading to young immigrant's shooting death

Agent who shot girl not in custody, not charged

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

RIO BRAVO, Texas - U.S. Border Patrol has changed its initial explanation of what led up to the shooting death of a young female immigrant in Rio Bravo, near Laredo, on Wednesday.

Instead of being assaulted with blunt objects, the agency now says an agent was rushed by other immigrants in the group.

Marta Martinez said she was getting ready for an awards ceremony at home when she heard a gunshot.

The single gunshot struck a young woman from Guatemala in the head.

Martinez recorded the aftermath on her cellphone, in which she could be heard yelling at the Border Patrol agent, demanding to know why the immigrant had been shot.

CNN reports that the Webb County Medical Examiner's Office identified the immigrant as Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, of San Juan Ostuncalco in Guatemala

A grief-stricken mother in Guatemala also wants to know why her daughter was killed. She wants her daughter’s body returned as soon as possible.

Border Patrol said the other immigrants in the group rushed the agent. Moments later, a weapon was discharged. There is an investigation into how and why it happened. 

“We know that they're doing their job, but I think their job is not to kill people,” Martinez said. “I’m scared.”

The FBI and the Texas Rangers also want to know what happened during the incident.

George Altgelt, the Border Patrol agent's attorney in Laredo, said he and his client welcome the FBI and Texas Rangers' involvement.

Altgelt said the evidence "will prove my client's innocence." He said his client and other Border Patrol agents "are heartbroken and hold the young woman and her family in our prayers."

Altgelt said he expects the findings will go before a Webb County grand jury within 30 to 90 days. He said they also welcome grand jury oversight since it's often how people are cleared.

The attorney said his client, who was not identified, is a 15-year Border Patrol veteran and a family man in his late 40s. He said the agent has not been charged and is not in custody, but he is on administrative leave.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas' 18th congressional district, released the following statement about the shooting death:

"I am saddened to hear of the shooting death of an unarmed young woman at our southern border at the hands of a border patrol agent.  While we are still learning the specific details of this incident, reports suggest that the border patrol agent used his service-issued firearm and fatally shot this woman in the head.  Reports also suggest that the victim was part of a group that was throwing objects at the agent, but that she was not specifically identified as one of the assailants.  I have called upon the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct an investigation into this incident.  This altercation occurs at a time where the president has ordered members of the National Guard deployed to that border, a move the chief of the border patrol union called a “colossal waste.”   We must not exacerbate tensions at the southern border; rather we must make every effort to ensure that those seeking to come into this country seeking a better life are treated with compassion, dignity and humanity."

The Guatemalan Ministry released the following statement:

"Guatemala regrets any fact of violence and the excessive use of force by the Border Patrol, calls for the rights of our compatriots to be respected at all times, whatever their immigration status, especially the right to life. It expresses its rejection of any aggression and requests a thorough and impartial investigation that guarantees respect to our fellow citizens.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attentive to the situation, providing all necessary services, to those who are already providing legal support to the affected families, and waiting for the official information of the victim to take the necessary steps for possible repatriation."

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