AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A claim by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller that "illegal aliens" attacked a hunting party in remote West Texas is being discounted by the local sheriff who says the hunters fired on one another.
Miller said in a recent Facebook post that the attack is another reason why a wall must be built to secure the Texas border.
"Anyone who says that the people illegally crossing into our country are just those seeking a better future for their families simply do not understand what is happening on our borders," the Republican said in his post. "There are violent criminals and members of drug cartels coming in."
He said the gunmen ambushed the party and shot a guide as he tried to protect the hunters.
But Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez on Monday criticized Miller's account.
"The agriculture commissioner needs to do his job and stick to that, and I'll do my job. You tell him I said that," Dominguez told the San Antonio Express-News.
A request to Dominguez for further comment Tuesday was not returned.
Sheriff's investigators said in a statement last week that the Jan. 6 incident in which the guide and a second man were shot was the result of "friendly fire among the hunting party with several contributing factors."
Authorities say about 30 law enforcement officers searched the perimeter of the ranch where the hunters were staying and didn't find signs of people approaching the camp that night. And investigators found no evidence of "cross-border violence," according to the statement.
An online blog cited an anonymous family member in posting an account of the shooting, which was then publicized by media outlets. The blog had asserted multiple gunmen attacked the group in an apparent effort to rob and kidnap the hunters.
Because Miller's post was to his personal Facebook page, his office Tuesday referred questions to his campaign spokesman, Todd Smith, whose phone was not accepting incoming messages. But Smith told the Express-News that what surprised him is that "people think we're a news organization. It's a personal Facebook page."
He said the shooting is "old news" and added if the sheriff has concerns about the commissioner's post then, "I'm sure he'll contact us."
Miller has received criticism in the past for other posts, including one shared in 2015 that appears to suggest using an atomic bomb on the Muslim population.
He apologized in November after his official Twitter account briefly posted — then deleted — a tweet that used an obscenity to refer to Hillary Clinton.