U.S. Border Patrol agent in Texas died of head trauma, cause unknown

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 07, 2018 6:15 PM

By Julio-Cesar Chavez

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) - The U.S. Border Patrol agent whose on-duty death in Texas in November prompted President Donald Trump to renew calls for a border wall with Mexico died of blunt-force trauma, the cause of which has not been determined, an autopsy report showed.

The results provide little clarity in a case that has become a flashpoint in the U.S. immigration debate.

The El Paso County Medical Examiner said in the report released on Tuesday night that agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, had fractures to his skull, upper jaw, clavicle and ribs, and bleeding in his brain.

He and another agent, who survived, were in sparsely populated Culberson County, about 130 miles (210 kms) southeast of El Paso, when they suffered head injuries and broken bones. Agent Stephen Garland, found in a culvert with Martinez, has trouble remembering the incident, according to local media reports.

In November, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the probe, said there were "a number of possible scenarios, but right now, we’re going to pursue it as a potential assault on a federal agent.”

Martinez's fiancée, Angelica Ochoa, said she has spoken with law enforcement and was told that it appears only the two agents were on the scene. She does not believe cross-border criminals were involved.

"(He) was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ochoa said in an interview on Wednesday from a family home in El Paso. She expressed concern that the case would remain unsolved.

"You can’t believe that illegals had something to do with it. It is just a good way to close the case and build the wall and hide what is going on behind closed doors."

The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing border patrol agents, said in November that it believes Martinez was killed by rocks in an ambush.

Union officials were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

The Culberson County Sheriff, one of the first agencies on the scene, told the Dallas Morning News in November that the agents may have been side-swiped by a truck. The office has not spoken commented on the incident since then.

Shortly after the agent's death, Trump tweeted: "Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!"

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez; Writing by Jon Herskovitz)