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Threat to Shoot Americans Cited : Student Trips to Tijuana Called Off

Times Staff Writer

The San Diego Unified School District, citing a threat to shoot Americans who cross the border, has called off all student field trips to Tijuana.

“We thought we’d better hold off on field trips for awhile,” said Timothy Allen, a second language specialist for the district.

A teacher at Gompers Secondary School said she had received a memo in her office mailbox Thursday morning which read, in part, “Due to international tensions, all trips to Tijuana will be canceled until a later time.”

Rocio Weiss, administrative assistant for the second language section, said three field trips to Tijuana were canceled Thursday and that 12 more scheduled for the remainder of the school year have been placed on hold pending further information on a leaflet containing the threat.

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Allen said cancellations of the trips, which are part of the curricula for several district Spanish classes, were made as a precautionary measure.

“We’re just going to wait and see what’s going to happen,” Allen said. “We’re using judgment--being cautious. We don’t want to walk into any problems.

“We’re hoping that in the next few days, we’ll know if it was a hoax or not,” Allen added.

A typed leaflet was turned over to U.S. authorities Tuesday by an unidentified American tourist who said a man handed it him as he waited to cross into the United States through the pedestrian entry at San Ysidro.

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The leaflet demanded that Border Patrol Agent Edward (Ned) Cole be punished for shooting 12-year-old Humberto Carrillo-Estrada through the border fence April 18. A second demand called for the U.S. government to compensate the boy’s family for the shooting.

The leaflet further stated, “Any North American male found in Mexican territory will be in the same situation to undergo what happened to our boy, Humberto Carrillo.”

It was signed by the “First Group Pro Dignity Mexico 1985.”

San Diego police and the U.S. State Department are working with Mexican authorities to try to pinpoint the origin of the leaflet.

Spokespersons for several San Diego bus companies that run tours to Tijuana and other points in Mexico said business has dropped off this week because of reports of the threat.

“We had a lot of calls,” said Kitty Burgess, manager of Mexicoach. “People expressed concern. I think it’s hurt business some . . . not too much.”

Barbara Littlemore, vice president of Mexicorama, said, “It’s definitely had an effect. Business is much slower this year than last year at this time. It’s definitely been off a bit.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Bates (D-San Diego) Thursday introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress that would cite for a federal offense any federal law enforcement officer who “assaults or otherwise physically injures an individual by using greater force than is necessary.”

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Bates introduced the bill following the failure of the San Diego district attorney’s office to act following the April 18 shooting of the boy by Cole.

According to police, Cole and a fellow Border Patrol agent chased Humberto’s older brother Eduardo, who had briefly entered the United States, to the border fence. Police reported that a group of Mexicans assembled on the Mexican side of the barrier and began throwing rocks and other objects at the agents.

According to the district attorney’s office report on the incident, Cole reportedly crouched and fired three shots from his .357 magnum pistol through the border fence, striking the boy once in the side. The boy, who spent several days in Mercy Hospital, is now recovering in his Tijuana home.

“It would be a travesty if improper conduct did occur and no federal action was taken,” Bates said. “The bill I introduced . . . will make it a federal criminal offense for a federal law enforcement officer to unjustifiably assault or injure an individual.

“This is clearly a federal matter that should be handled by the federal government,” Bates said.

The bill also provides for official review by the U.S. attorney general of any alleged violation of the law by a federal law enforcement officer. Under the proposed legislation, an officer convicted of an offense would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.


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