A Border Patrol agent in Texas agent was killed in the line of duty on Sunday while another remains in serious condition, prompting President Trump to promise justice and reiterate his desire for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The deceased agent, Rogelio Martinez, died while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector. He and his partner, whose name has not been disclosed, were responding to activity in the area when they were attacked. Customs and Border Protection and the Homeland Security Department provided little detail on what transpired, saying only that Martinez’s partner requested assistance and responding agents helped treat the pair’s injuries before transporting them to a local hospital.
Border Patrol and CBP’s Air and Marine Operations agents began searching the area for suspects and witnesses on Sunday. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the DHS inspector general and the FBI are investigating the incident.
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“We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event,” said acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. “On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition.”
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents about 18,000 Border Patrol agents, said his members on the ground offered more details on exactly what occurred. Martinez, after responding to activity in the area, got out of his car to follow footprints. He was very quickly hit in the head and subsequently “beaten very badly,” Judd said the agents told him. The second agent arrived on scene later, and was also hit in the head. Martinez was unconscious the entire time from when he was found, Judd said, while the second agent faded in and out of consciousness and had no memory of what transpired.
“Frankly it was a brutal and heinous murder,” Judd said. CBP did not respond to questions seeking further details on the incident.
President Trump promised in a tweet Sunday night to “seek out and bring to justice those responsible,” while also adding a plug for his proposed border wall. Trump has requested $1.6 billion to begin wall construction later this fiscal year, but Congress has not yet agreed to provide the funding. CBP has hired several companies to build prototypes that could serve as the wall’s design.
Several lawmakers spoke out against the attack, using the occasion to pledge their support to federal law enforcement personnel.
“We are grateful for the courage and sacrifice of our border agents who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “I remain fully committed to working with the Border Patrol to provide them with all the resources they need to safeguard our nation.”
Judd said he reached out to the White House to discuss the attack on Sunday, and Trump’s tweet followed shortly thereafter.
“Being able to reach out to the WH and being able to express my concern for this and then to see the president respond so quickly, it’s good for our agents to see we do have a president that is willing to go to bat for us,” Judd said.
Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 7,500 assaults against Border Patrol agents, according to CBP. Martinez is the 39th agent to die in the line of duty since 2003.