Border Patrol agent fatally shoots female migrant, official says

Video showing the shooting scene was posted by Laredo activist Priscilla “Lagordiloca” Villarreal, pictured in January.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a female migrant while patrolling the border town of Rio Bravo, Texas, late Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

The agent was responding to reports of activity in the town nearly 12 miles south of Laredo when he encountered a group of migrants who he said beat him with two-by-fours, according to a statement released by the Border Patrol

During the melee that ensued, the agent fired and shot a female migrant in the head, the Border Patrol said. The agent gave the wounded woman CPR, and paramedics responded, but she later died, the statement said. The incident is now under review by the Texas Rangers and the FBI.


The Border Patrol did not identify the agent or the migrant who was killed. Three other migrants were taken into custody, the statement said.

Video from the shooting scene was posted to Facebook by Laredo activist Priscilla “Lagordiloca” Villarreal. In the video, the voice of the female witness filming can be heard as an agent leads two detained men from an abandoned building past green-and-white Border Patrol vehicles.

“Why do you mistreat them?” the woman shouts in Spanish. “Why did you shoot the woman? You killed the woman!”

The woman walks up the street, closer to the scene of the shooting.

“They shot her in the head for running,” she says. “They killed her.”

A Texas Highway Patrol trooper approaches and can be heard on the video warning her, “Ma’am, you interfere, you’re going to be arrested. They’re interviewing and they’re investigating.”


Another trooper can be seen behind him, stringing up yellow police tape.

A Border Patrol official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the incident, verified that the video posted on Facebook was filmed at the site of the incident.

As border enforcement has increased under President Trump, including the deployment of the National Guard to the border last month, migrant advocates in south Texas have complained of excessive force and civil rights violations. They note that while migrant apprehensions have increased in recent months, compared with decades ago they are at a historical low and include many families and unaccompanied children.

More than half of the apprehensions on the southern border are made in south Texas around Laredo and the adjacent Rio Grande Valley, according to Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Manuel Padilla Jr.

Padilla also noted during a recent briefing that assaults on agents have also increased as migrants become more desperate, at the mercy of smugglers who warehouse them in stash houses.

“The dangers of crossing this border are multifaceted. It’s not just coming up through Central America and Mexico. There’s a lot that happens afterward,” Padilla said Wednesday during a briefing highlighting the discovery of 86 migrants being smuggled through south Texas in a tractor-trailer hauling refrigerated fruit.

But some migrant advocates argue the agency has inflated statistics to show increased assaults on its agents. Community groups, such as La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, in the Rio Grande Valley, have worked with residents to film law enforcement with their cellphones, as the witness in Rio Bravo did, to hold them accountable.

“The ongoing tragedy of death at the hands of border agents is something border communities know too well,” said John Michael Torres, a LUPE spokesman. “Border Patrol shrugs off meaningful reforms that could bring a measure of accountability and transparency to the agency, reforms that could curb this pattern of deadly force.

“Instead, the agency invents numbers showing an increase of assaults on border agents when in reality such assaults are down. Border crossings are at near-historic lows, yet Border Patrol use of deadly force persists.”