AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. Border Patrol agent who died while patrolling a remote part of West Texas may have been assaulted, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday in a case that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to renew his call for a border wall.
Few details have been released about the incident late on Saturday not far from the U.S. border with Mexico near Interstate 10, about 150 miles (240 km) southeast of El Paso.
Rogelio Martinez, 36, died on Sunday from injuries suffered while on patrol in sparsely populated Culberson County, and his partner was seriously injured, authorities said without naming his partner. Both agents sustained traumatic head injuries and broken bones, the FBI in El Paso said.
“There are a number of possible scenarios, but right now, we’re going to pursue it as a potential assault on a federal agent,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. told a news conference in El Paso.
The FBI is treating the area where the incident occurred as a crime scene, he said, without elaborating.
There has been speculation in local media that Martinez could have slipped and fallen in a culvert, and the FBI has not ruled out that the death was accidental.
The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing border patrol agents, has told media it believes Martinez was killed by rocks in an ambush attack.
Shortly after news of the death, Trump tweeted: “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!”
A $25,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to an arrest or conviction, Buie said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said 38 other agents had died in the line of duty since 2003.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney