Border Patrol, Alpine, Texas (Photo by Frank Heinz, CC-BY-2.0)
Details are still murky about what led the death of a US border patrol agent over the weekend. Agent Rogelio Martinez was found unconscious on Saturday night, in a culvert about twelve miles from Van Horn, Texas.
by Mallory Falk
The FBI is offering two new details about the events surrounding Agent Martinez’s death. Emmerson Buie, the special agent in charge of the El Paso division, says he’s investigating the case as a potential assault.
“We’re trying to gather the facts,” said Buie. “And if the facts support that, then we will pursue it legally. If they support that the incident was caused by something else, then we’ll present that.”
The Bureau declined to say why they believe Martinez may have been assaulted, but said they aren’t ruling out the possibility his death was an accident. “The FBI, along with our partners, will be aggressively following all leads coming in from the public in regards to the investigation that’s on going,” said Buie.
He says the FBI doesn’t have a full picture of what happened, and offered a $25,000 reward for information about the case. That’s on top of the $20,000 reward Texas Governor Greg Abbott already promised.
Victor Velazquez is the acting border patrol chief in the Big Bend Sector. During Tuesday’s press conference, he said agents face dangers daily, from smugglers, criminal activity and the rugged terrain of the sector. “The job of the border patrol is inherently dangerous. Our men and women deal with the constant presence of the unknown.”
The Border Patrol has said agent Martinez and his partner were on patrol in Van Horn on Saturday night. That’s when officials say Martinez’s partner — who has remained unnamed — reported the two had sustained multiple injuries and were in need of assistance.
Responding agents found Martinez unconscious with several injuries to his head and body, including broken bones. Officials say, Martinez was given medial treatment and was eventually taken to a hospital in El Paso, where he later died from his injuries.
Martinez’s partner, who also sustained injuries to the head, was found conscious and remains in critical but stable condition at a local hospital, according to Velazquez.
The FBI is asking anyone with information about Martinez’s death to call its 24-hour hotline.