“From the beginning we were radioed to assist in the incident as an injury, not an assault,” a Texas sheriff said.
The U. S. border patrol agent whose death earlier this month has remained a mystery might have been hit by a truck — not attacked by undocumented immigrants, as President Trump and other Republicans were quick to suggest, a Texas sheriff said Thursday.
Agent Rogelio Martinez was found with traumatic head injuries and broken bones on the side of a busy road outside El Paso on Nov. 18. Martinez’s partner, who has not been identified, was also found with serious injuries but survived and remains hospitalized.
After nearly two weeks of silence, Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carillo said he believes a tractor-trailer could have clipped Martinez and his partner as they were standing just a few feet from the busy Interstate 10.
“From the beginning we were radioed to assist in the incident as an injury, not an assault,” Carillo told the Dallas Morning News . “That’s the way it was communicated to us.”
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But the ambiguities surrounding Martinez’s death didn’t stop President Trump from politicizing it.
“Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt,” Trump tweeted less than 24 hours after Martinez’s body was found. “We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”
Shortly thereafter, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott, both Republicans, followed Trump’s lead, announcing that the agent had been “killed.” Cruz called Martinez’s death “a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities.”
The National Border Patrol Council, which endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, was also quick to politicize the 36-year-old border agent’s death, asserting that Martinez was stoned to death by undocumented immigrants, seemingly without any evidence.
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A White House spokeswoman declined to comment. Multiple spokespeople with the National Border Patrol Council did not immediately return a request for comment from the Daily News.
Sheriff Carillo, who was one of the first responders on the scene, said there have recently been a number of accidents on the heavily trafficked roadway, with drivers accidentally swerving out of their lanes because of heavy wind drafts.
“If this was an assault, believe me, as sheriff, I’d be the first one out there emphasizing safety in our community and with our deputies, pairing them up,” Carillo said. “But from what I know and see, that was not the case here.”