A mysterious incident last weekend that left one Border Patrol agent dead in west Texas and another critically injured is being investigated as a possible attack, officials said.
“There are a number of possible scenarios, but right now we are going to pursue it as an assault on a federal agent,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said during a Tuesday briefing in El Paso. “This is the most important investigation in the El Paso division of the FBI. We will be aggressively investigating all leads.”
Agent Rogelio “Roger” Martinez, 36, a four-year veteran, was found with “traumatic head injuries” and broken bones at 11:20 p.m. Saturday near Interstate 10 about 12 miles east of Van Horn after responding to a triggered sensor, Buie said.
Martinez was sent to a hospital in El Paso and died from head injuries early Sunday. Autopsy results are pending.
The union representing Border Patrol officers said the two agents were attacked by migrants wielding rocks. Chris Cabrera, a union spokesman and veteran agent based in McAllen, Texas, said that calling the incident an assault was “insulting,” and he faulted federal officials for “downplaying” the incident instead of investigating it as a potential homicide.
“He didn’t get punched in the neck. He’s dead,” Cabrera said.
The agents were found at the bottom of a 9-foot-deep culvert in an area known for drug activity, FBI and union officials said, leading to speculation that they might have fallen.
The remote Big Bend sector, which includes almost a quarter of the southern border, is far from a migrant hot spot.