California: border agent kills migrant

On March 26, a Border Patrol shot and killed a man who allegedly threatened him with a rock in Calexico, California, on the border with Mexico. The agent fired an M-4 assault rifle at the man, who was apparently trying to evade arrest and run back to Mexico. The man was pronounced dead from one bullet wound at El Centro Regional Medical Center. Pablo Arnaud Carreno, Mexico’s consul in Calexico, said the victim appeared to be a Mexican man who had entered the US without permission. His name was not released. The Mexican government has asked US authorities for a thorough investigation. “It seems unjust to shoot someone who is unarmed,” Arnaud Carreno said on March 27.

Border Patrol spokesperson David Kim said agents saw seven people climb a border fence, run to the All-American Canal and attempt to cross the waterway in rafts. The victim was in a raft that had turned back toward Mexico. Kim said the agent fired after seeing the man’s arm cocked back with a rock in the hand. Other people continued to throw rocks at the agents, Kim said. (AP, March 28)

Enrique Lozano, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector office, gave a different version of events. He said agents searching a truck lot just north of the All-American Canal caught six immigrants out of a group of seven suspected of having crossed the border without permission. The seventh jumped into the canal, swam across and ran south back toward the border with agents in pursuit, Lozano said. As the man ran toward the border fence, about five or six people on the Mexican side of the fence in Mexicali scaled the fence, jumped onto the US side and started throwing rocks at the pursuing agents, Lozano said. “They were just flinging rocks all over the place,” said Lozano. They also lit and threw a Molotov cocktail at the agents, Lozano claimed. The homemade bomb landed near the agents, but failed to explode, he said.

According to Lozano, as agents closed in on the man being pursued, he picked up a large rock and turned toward them with his arm cocked back to throw it. “He was face-to-face with the agents, just feet away,” Lozano said. At that point, one of the agents fired one shot from his M-4 rifle, hitting the man. The group that jumped the fence and attacked the agents with rocks eventually ran back into Mexico, Lozano said, while five of the six people caught in the truck lot were allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico. The sixth was found to have a misdemeanor warrant pending against him and was turned over to Imperial County sheriff’s deputies, said Lozano. (San Diego Union Tribune, March 28)

The FBI is investigating the incident and the Imperial County coroner’s office was performing an autopsy. The Border Patrol declined to identify the agent involved. (AP, March 28)

From Immigration News Briefs, March 30

See our last post on the immigration crackdown and the struggle for the border.