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President Trump referred to as it proof of the necessity to construct a wall; Senator Ted Cruz mentioned it was a “stark reminder” of insecurity alongside the border.

To everybody, it appeared like a horrendous instance of the hazards that border patrol officers face as they cowl huge, distant and unforgiving territories.

However a month after a middle-of-the-night incident by which one border patrol agent was killed and one other, who is claimed to haven’t any reminiscence of what occurred, was severely injured, nobody appears to understand how the boys got here into hurt’s manner off an interstate in West Texas.

It was initially regarded as an assault, maybe by migrants or drug smugglers. However the Federal Bureau of Investigation says it additionally was doable the boys had been damage by chance. The Culberson County Sheriff, Oscar Carrillo, who helps with the investigation, appeared to favor that principle when he instructed The Dallas Morning Information that the boys may have been hit by a truck driving alongside the interstate subsequent to the place they had been discovered.

“If this was an assault, consider me, as sheriff, I’d be the primary one on the market emphasizing security in our neighborhood and with our deputies, pairing them up,” he instructed the newspaper. “However from what I do know and see, that was not the case right here.”

That speculation has angered the border brokers’ union, The Nationwide Border Patrol Council, whose management fiercely insists that the boys had been attacked. Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the group, went so far as to name Sheriff Carrillo a “dingbat” on his weekly podcast.

“All these different theories, it’s tarnishing the title of our brokers,” he mentioned in an interview.

The speedy, politicized reactions from President Trump, Senator Cruz and different elected officers have died down, as weeks have handed with none extra readability as to what occurred.

It was simply after 11 p.m. on Nov. 18, when, in keeping with the F.B.I., the 2 brokers on the coronary heart of the thriller responded to unspecified “exercise” close to a culvert, or drainage tunnel, that carries water beneath Interstate 10 close to Van Horn.

Rogelio Martinez

One of many brokers, Stephen Garland, then referred to as for assist. When colleagues arrived, they discovered each males with main head accidents and damaged bones, and took them to an area hospital. The boys had been flown to a bigger hospital in El Paso, the place the opposite agent, Rogelio Martinez, died early the subsequent morning.

Instantly afterward, the F.B.I. mentioned that it might spearhead an inquiry into the incident, which they had been treating as a “potential assault in opposition to a federal officer,” in keeping with Jeanette Harper, a spokeswoman for the company. Assaults in opposition to Customs and Border Safety officers, together with Border Patrol brokers, reached 720 within the 2017 fiscal yr, probably the most in not less than 5 years, in keeping with knowledge from the company.

Ms. Harper mentioned the F.B.I. had collected forensic proof that was being analyzed at its laboratory in Quantico, Va., and was additionally “aggressively” following up on leads that got here into the company’s tip line.

A kind of led to a search warrant being issued for a automobile belonging to 2 brothers. However later, Ms. Harper, the F.B.I. spokeswoman, mentioned the company had not arrested anybody, and even recognized anybody “of curiosity,” within the investigation, suggesting that the tip concerning the brothers might not have proved fruitful.

Angie Ochoa, who was engaged to marry Mr. Martinez when he died, mentioned she even went to the scene of the incident, escorted by considered one of her fiancé’s co-workers, after she turned fed up with the shifting accounts of what might have occurred. “None of it made sense so I needed to see for myself,” she mentioned.

A part of the problem of creating what precisely occurred to the boys is the remoteness of their work. Border brokers patrol rocky deserts, typically in the midst of the evening, the place there are only a few, if any, different individuals round. The incident in November occurred exterior a tiny city of lower than 2,000 individuals. The opposite agent, Mr. Garland, who has been launched from the hospital, is claimed to haven’t any reminiscence of what occurred.

Mr. Martinez’s father, Jose Martinez, mentioned in an interview shortly after his son died that after seeing his son within the hospital, he thought the accidents had been too extreme to have been brought on by an accident. “I consider somebody put a entice,” he mentioned. The elder Mr. Martinez mentioned he had typically apprehensive about his son working alone in the midst of the evening.

One other signal of the uncertainty surrounding the case will be discovered within the descriptions of the rewards provided by the F.B.I. and the state of Texas.

The state is providing $20,000 for data “resulting in the “arrest and conviction of the particular person or individuals liable for the homicide of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the intense damage of one other.”

The F.B.I.’s $50,000 reward is for “data resulting in the decision of this case.”

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