Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Feds Probe Fatal Shooting of Mexican Man at Border
YUMA, Ariz. Federal authorities were investigating the fatal shooting of a Mexican man who allegedly threw rocks at U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Mexico side of the border, American officials said.
Mexico's Foreign Relations Department identified the victim as Antonio Perez Ramirez of Veracruz state on the Gulf Coast.
The Mexican government said the man was shot Saturday night while crossing the border and crossed back into Mexico before dying.
Mexican officials have sent formal petitions to the Border Patrol and FBI, demanding a full investigation of the case and ''if necessary, full punishment for those responsible.''
The victim, who was shot by a Border Patrol agent, was among several people who lifted themselves above a corrugated metal border fence, threw rocks at agents and ducked back down, said Border Patrol spokesman Chris Van Wagenen.
Smugglers sometimes throw softball-sized rocks, hunks of concrete and whole bricks at Border Patrol agents, either out of frustration for tighter border security or to try to get authorities to back off.
Van Wagenen said a preliminary examination suggested the agent was justified in protecting himself and his colleagues from their attackers.
One agent who was struck in the head was treated and released, Van Wagenen said.
The FBI was investigating the shooting, which occurred near the Andrade Port of Entry in California, close to the Arizona state line. The incident began after agents spotted a suspicious vehicle near the port of entry.
The driver fled, tried to swim across a pond in an effort to return to Mexico and began to thrash in the water as if he were in distress, Van Wagenen said.
As agents tried to rescue the man, people began to throw rocks from the Mexican side of the border at four Border Patrol agents, who were about 20 feet from their attackers, Van Wagenen said.
The only available escape route for the agents would have left them more vulnerable to the people throwing rocks, Van Wagenen said.
The man who was shot was later pronounced dead at a Mexican hospital, Van Wagenen said.
The Border Patrol agent who shot the man was put on paid leave, a routine step while a shooting investigation is being conducted, Van Wagenen said.
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