A Texas sheriff says it's unlikely the two U.S. Border Patrol agents found injured on Nov. 18 were attacked.
Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo was among the first people to reach the wounded border agents, who were found along a culvert next to Interstate 10, reports The Dallas Morning News.
Agent Rogelio Martinez eventually died of his injuries, while his partner was hospitalized. He has since been released but doesn't remember what happened that day, according to Newsweek.
Carrillo says it's likely the agents were involved in an accident; he believes they may have been sideswiped by a passing tractor-trailer.
"From the beginning we were radioed to assist in the incident as an injury, not an assault," he said. "That’s the way it was communicated to us. 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. But from what I know and see, that was not the case here."
Carillo said that a "rush to judgment" about the incident has made his work as a law enforcement official more difficult. "We owe it to the young agent and his family to conduct a slow and meticulous investigation," he added.
President Donald Trump was one of the first to characterize the incident as an intentional attack: "Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt," Trump tweeted on Nov. 19, following news of the incident. "We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!"
The National Border Patrol Council, a labor union for border patrol workers, alleged that the agents were stoned by undocumented immigrants, drug traffickers or both.
"The injuries to Martinez could not have happened the way the media has been trying to portray,” argued Stuart Harris, vice president of the Border Patrol Council Local 1929. “Agent Martinez was ultimately murdered. The agents were tracking footprints and were ultimately ambushed, and assaulted by, I don’t know who, but it could have been illegal immigrants or drug traffickers."
FBI spokeswoman Jeanette Harper said that the agency is exploring the possibility that Martinez's death was an accident, but that the FBI has not ruled out the possibility that it could have been the result of an attack carried out by immigrants or drug traffickers.
"We’re looking at everything," Harper said. "We’re doing our due diligence throughout the course of the investigation. The FBI role is to determine the facts in this tragic incident."
Sources: National Border Patrol Council, The Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Featured Image: Phil Gingrey/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Gerald Nino/Wikimedia Commons (2)