TEXAS (NBC/AP) — Authorities were searching Texas’ Big Bend area for potential suspects and witnesses after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was fatally injured responding to activity there.
Agent Rogelio Martinez was transported to a hospital after he and his partner were injured while on patrol in the Van Horn station area near the state’s western border, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Martinez died from his injuries. His partner, whose name wasn’t released, was in serious condition, according to the statement.
A Border Patrol spokesman said the agency couldn’t provide any details Sunday on what caused the agent’s injuries or what led to them. But a spokesman said the FBI had taken over the investigation.
Although the investigation is still preliminary, President Donald Trump weighed in via Twitter, vowing Sunday night that he will “seek justice.”
“Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released a statement offering sympathies for the agent’s family.
Our condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, who was killed this morning in the line of duty. We are also praying for the full recovery of his partner, who was also attacked.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, also expressed sympathy.
“On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition.”
Martinez, 36, of El Paso, Texas, had been a border agent since August 2013.
Border Patrol records show that Big Bend accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions its agents made along the Southwest border from October 2016 to May.
The region’s mountains and the Rio Grande make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the United States from Mexico.
The Border Patrol website lists 38 agents who have died since late 2003, some attacked while working along the border, as well as other deaths in traffic accidents. It lists one other agent’s death in the line of duty this year.