Sheriff Says The Theory That Border Agents Were Attacked Never Made Sense

Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo was among the first on the scene after Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died.

By Laura Rice & Jill AmentApril 2, 2018 10:23 am| ,

Last November, the mysterious death of West Texas Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez made national news. Agent Martinez was found along the highway near Van Horn. His partner was found alive, but couldn’t remember what had happened. The tragedy quickly turned political. President Donald Trump tweeted that the agents had been attacked, reinforcing his calls for a border wall.

But an FBI report released last month cited no evidence of an attack. And the thing is, that’s what the Culberson County sheriff has been saying all along.

NPR’s Austin-based reporter John Burnett says Sheriff Oscar Carrillo was among the first to reach the scene of the incident involving the Border Patrol agents.

“[Carrillo] has been the lawman in Culberson County since 2000,” Burnett says. “He has handled a lot of accidents and a lot of homicides, and he feels like he knows the difference.”

Burnett says Carrillo was ridiculed by Trump supporters and conservative border security advocates who believed the agents were killed by border-crossers, or “bad hombres” in the parlance of President Trump. The Border Patrol agents’ union criticized the sheriff, too.

“He even took his Facebook page down,” Burnett says.

Carrillo told Burnett that the supposition that the agents were hit in the head with rocks didn’t make sense. Rocks weren’t present in the area where the agents were found.

The cause of Agent Martinez’ death is still listed as undetermined, though the FBI’s statement and the 600 interviews law enforcement officials have conducted have not surfaced evidence or a credible suspect.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.