UPDATE: With anger boiling over in Mexico at the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy at the hands of a US border guard Monday, US officials have been scrambling to deflect criticism and paint the dead teenager as a risk to US security — and Mexican authorities as uncooperative.
A report at Fox News cites “sources close” to an FBI-led investigation as saying that the deceased teenager, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka, was “known to authorities as a juvenile smuggler.”
According to the source, Huereka “was on a ‘most wanted’ list of juvenile smugglers compiled by U.S. authorities in the El Paso area,” Fox News reported. It was not clear from the report if Fox News had corroborated the claim.
And the Associated Press, citing FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons, said armed Mexican security forces “chased away US authorities” who were investigating the incident.
Shortly after the boy was shot, Mexican soldiers arrived at the scene and pointed their guns at the Border Patrol agents across the riverbank while bystanders screamed insults and hurled rocks and firecrackers, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said. She said the agents were forced to withdraw.
For their part, Mexican officials and politicians are “seething” over the incident, reports AFP:
Mexico voiced more anger Wednesday over American agents who killed a teenage boy at a border crossing, as the government called for a review of US rules of engagement.
With Mexican politicians and residents near the border seething, Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said Mexico was also “insisting on an exhaustive investigation” into Monday’s killing of a 14-year-old boy after a rock-throwing incident near a crossing at Ciudad Juarez.
“There are specific protocols regarding violence on the border,” Espinosa said in a statement. “We are asking for a review of these protocols that allow us to have a clear set of guidelines” for US and Mexican authorities.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
One day after a US border agent shot and killed a Mexican teen underneath an international bridge, accusations are being hurled from both directions (AP photo shows body).
“The border patrol agent, whose name has not been released, shot and killed 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca after a group of suspected illegal migrants threw rocks at the agents at an international bridge near downtown El Paso, Texas on Monday evening, according to the FBI, the lead agency investigating the shooting,” an AOL News report notes. “The agent was 12 yards from the border, on the U.S. side. The victim was on Mexican soil.”
“I was near the flagstaff on the bridge waiting for my wife and suddenly I saw the boys enter from the American side; a migration agent pursued them and they went back. An official on a bicycle went toward the Mexican side and started shooting at the boys,” a witness told Ciudad Juarez newspaper El Diario. Afterward, two unarmed men were taken into custody.
According to an FBI news release Tuesday, the border agent warned the group to stop throwing rocks and retreat, but when the order went unheeded, the agent took out his weapon and fired several shots. While the lawfulness of the shooting will be investigated, it will likely be exonerated, said FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons.
“If you are trying to detain someone and they are throwing rocks and not listening, I suspect that’s going to be within their deadly force policy,” she said.
An Associated Press article on the incident claims “The case took a testy turn when U.S. and Mexican officials traded suggestions of misconduct in the incident.”
However, the only US official quoted in the article is unnamed, while the Mexican reaction comes straight from the top.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Tuesday that his government “will use all resources available to protect the rights of Mexican migrants.”
The government “reiterates its rejection to the disproportionate use of force on the part on U.S. authorities on the border with Mexico,” the president added in a statement.
Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s office, said a spent .40-caliber shell casing was found near the body Ã¢â‚¬â€ raising the question of whether the fatal shot was fired inside Mexico, although he did not explicitly make that allegation. That would violate the rules for Border Patrol agents, who are supposed to stay on the U.S. side of the border.
Chihuahua state officials released a statement demanding a full investigation into the death. The boy was shot once near the eye, Sandoval said. Authorities were still investigating the bullet’s trajectory, he said.
The AP article quotes an unnamed US official “who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name,” and alleges that an unreleased video shows not only that the agent never crossed the border, but that after the boy accused of throwing rocks was killed, Mexican law officers can be seen potentially tampering with evidence to show otherwise.
According to this official, Associated Press reporters Olivia Torres and Christopher Sherman report, video — unseen by Mexico — “shows what seem to be four Mexican law enforcement officers driving to the edge of the dry but muddy bed of the Rio Grande, walking across to the U.S. side, picking up an undetermined object and returning to Mexico near the area where the boy’s body was. Like their U.S. counterparts, Mexican law officers are not authorized to cross the border without permission.”
US officials also provided the El Paso Times with an exclusive on how “attacks on agents on the border have increased and have become increasingly dangerous.”
A KFOXTV article adds,
On Tuesday, the governor of Chihuahua condemned the killing and said the death was due to “xenophobic and racist conduct derived from the approval of the anti-immigrant law S.B. 1070 in Arizona.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is not a civil rights investigation. At this point it’s an assault on a federal officer investigation,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Andrea Simmons, a special agent with the FBI.
For now, officials are releasing very few details about what exactly happened Monday evening, but in an interview with the El Paso Times Tuesday, Alan Bersin, the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said agents aren’t trained to fire into the air. That’s because that could lead to a stray bullet hitting an innocent bystander. He went on to say Ã¢â‚¬Å“they have a split second to decide.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Lou Patch, a supervisory Border Patrol agent in El Paso, confirmed that at least one agent opened fire during the Monday incident and said an investigation was under way, headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Patch told AFP that agents were “performing bike patrol duties” on the bridge when they were “assaulted with rocks by an unknown number of people.”
“During the assault at least one agent discharged his firearm,” he said.
The agent was placed on administrative leave and “a thorough multi-agency investigation is ongoing,” he added.
Mexican officials said that according to witness statements, the US agents on bicycle pursued the youths toward Mexico and that two of them opened fire.
Mexican state police had earlier provided a different version of events, saying the boy had been playing with two other youths on the Puente Negro bridge spanning the Rio Grande.
Ciudad Juarez’s attorney general’s office also said the youths were playing when they strayed into US territory inadvertently, and ran back toward the Mexican side after being surprised by the US agents.
The victim’s parents said their son was killed inside Mexico and that he had no intention of crossing the border.
Jesus Hernandez, the father, told W Radio his son went to the bridge to have lunch with his brother, who works nearby. At one point, “he went to the river bank to look to the other side.
“There were lots of kids and the border patrol cop… started firing off shots and hit my son, my baby twice in the head.”
Hernandez said Mexican authorities had yet to contact the family about the incident.
“US President Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of up to 1,200 more troops on the border with Mexico to battle drug trafficking,” the AFP reports.
The AP article also noted, “Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said its records indicate the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by U.S. immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year, which is not half over.”
At VivirLatino, a website “dedicated to featuring all the latest politics, culture, entertainment of interest to the diverse and influential Latino and Latina community in the US,” Maegan la Mamita Mala slams President Obama.
There have been reports that Sergio was just playing near the border when he was shot, another report I read said that he was visiting a relative who lived in el Norte. Regardless of why Sergio was on the border, regardless of if he had rocks in his hands or not, there is not justification for this. Where is Obama now? Now that he has ordered sending National Guard troops to the border when already this year, which is not even half way over, the number of injuries and deaths on the border at the hands of Border Patrol is higher than it has been in the previous two years. Where are his promises of reform and change? Seems like they are being buried along with the bodies of our children.