Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $20,000 reward Monday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for killing one U.S. Border Patrol agent and seriously wounding another over the weekend.
Agent Rogelio Martinez was patrolling on foot near Interstate 10 in western Texas on Sunday when he was struck in the head by an object — likely a rock, according to Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for a border patrol agents union. His partner, who has not been named, was also injured, and was taken to the hospital where he was in serious condition.
President Trump said the government would bring the perpetrators to justice, and said the apparent attack was a reason to build his border wall.
“We need it. It’s rough territory,” the president said while meeting with his Cabinet on Monday. He offered “respect” to the families of the two agents.
Mr. Abbott also offered condolences to the families, and said the reward was the state’s way of trying to help with bringing the culprits to justice for the attack, which he labeled “murder.”
“As authorities continue their investigation, it is important that they receive any and all information to help apprehend and deliver swift justice to those responsible,” the governor said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, has been keeping a close lid on details, but agents said the attack was likely carried out with rocks. Such assaults are so common that agents call them “rocking” incidents.
Indeed, the most up-to-date versions of the border fence were designed to give visibility through to the other side so agents aren’t ambushed by hidden rock-throwers.
The Border Patrol has also erected metal carports along the border to protect agents and their vehicles when they are posted at some key locations.
The Border Patrol has had a long-running debate over use-of-force policies in rocking incidents. Immigrant-rights activists complain that agents are too quick to shoot into Mexico to try to stop the rock-throwing.
One case, involving an agent who said he was pelted by rocks and fired back, killing a 15-year-old boy, has even reached the Supreme Court. The case apparently ended in a 4-4 tie last term, and is being reheard this year with a full contingent of nine justices.
After this weekend’s incident, Mexico issued a statement expressing “regret” over the attack.
“The Government of Mexico condemns violence and expresses its absolute willingness to collaborate with officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security if necessary,” the Mexican foreign ministry said.
The government ordered Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrez to personally deliver the offer of collaboration to U.S. officials.
The Mexican government did not address Mr. Trump’s call for a wall, but the issue is likely to get renewed attention in Washington when lawmakers return from a week-long Thanksgiving vacation.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, in a statement offering condolences after the attack, said the agent’s death should push Congress to move faster on border security.
“That is why I have repeatedly called for new technology and physical barriers, including a wall, along with additional personnel to strengthen the security of our southern border,” he said..
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