Details About Shooting of Matamoros Man Still Emerging

How did a thirty-year-old Mexican man end up dead on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande in Matamoros?
Wed July 11, 2012 6:59 pm
Flickr | eutrophication&hypoxia

The Monitor’s Ildefonso Ortiz has a richly detailed story about Saturday’s cross-border shooting that left one dead in Matamoros.

Ortiz dropped by the impromptu wake that had sprung up at a house in Los Pinos and met the sister of Juan Pablo Perez Soto, who died from a bullet that was apparently fired from the American side of the border.

The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are still unclear, but Ortiz gave this account of the shooting:

The shooting took place just south of Veterans International Bridge when Border Patrol agents responded to the river regarding illegal immigrants attempting to cross, Mendiola said. When the agents detained a group of people, they were pelted by rocks and one agent fired his weapon in self-defense but didn’t hit anyone. About the same time, just south of that location, an agent saw a man pointing a weapon at him and fired.

The Mexican consul in Brownsville, Rodolfo Quilatán Arenas, said the man that Border Patrol claimed was holding a weapon was Perez, and they are trying to confirm whether he was armed.

The FBI is now looking into the death, which has sparked something of an international incident. The Mexican Foreign Ministry “strongly denounced” the shooting and calling it a “disproportionate use of force.” A spokesman for U.S. Border Patrol

Enrique Mendiola, spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, held, however, that throwing rocks constitutes deadly force, according to Reuters. “A rock could be considered a lethal weapon and we are going to respond. Agents have been very badly injured by rock attacks,” he said. “Our agents are highly trained and regardless of where the threat is coming from, our agent is going to respond to neutralize it.”

For the final section of his story, Ortiz walked down to the Rio Grande near where the shooting occurred:

A small team of journalists visiting the northern bank near the scene the day after the shooting was hailed by a 30-something man who popped out of the brush on the Mexican side of the river.

“They killed my cousin,” the man said before diving into the river and swimming across to give his side of the story.  

The man, who refused to give his name but identified himself as Perez’s cousin, said a group of individuals had been throwing rocks at the agents, but he and Perez had been in the area gathering wood to roast chickens. A shot rang out, and Perez went down.

“Yes, he bled to death right there,” the man said, pointing to a spot on the Mexican side of the river.

The man then abruptly ended the interview, jumped back into the water, swam to the Mexican side and walked away.

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