By Robert Moore, Lindsey Bever and Nick Miroff,
VAN HORN, Tex. — Along the shoulder of Interstate 10, where drug runners sometimes hide in drainage culverts, U.S. Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez came to a stop late Saturday and got out of his vehicle.
Martinez scrambled down an embankment through ocotillo and creosote bush, splitting the darkness with his flashlight. Then, according to Border Patrol union officials, attackers struck him from behind.
Martinez, 36, was found dying moments later, apparently bludgeoned with rocks, the union officials say. Nearby was another agent who arrived with Martinez or soon after, badly beaten but alive, the officials say.
The attack described by officials would be the first killing of an on-duty Border Patrol agent since the 2010 murder of Brian Terry in Arizona. That event was a catalyzing moment in the push for tougher border enforcement, and President Trump has cited Martinez’s death to boost his case for a wall along the boundary with Mexico.
“We will, and must, build the Wall!” he tweeted, saying Martinez had been “killed.”
But the FBI, which is leading the investigation of Martinez’s death, released a statement late Monday that did not confirm the agents were attacked. The two men were found at 11:20 p.m. Saturday in a culvert area about 12 miles east of Van Horn, the statement said, with traumatic head injuries “along with other miscellaneous physical injuries such as broken bones.”
Both agents were airlifted to El Paso, where Martinez died from