Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a 20-year-old undocumented woman, was fatally shot Wednesday by a Border Patrol agent in Rio Bravo, Texas, according to CNN. Her death, the aftermath of which was recorded by a witness and posted to Facebook, has brought additional tension to the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to a statement released by Customs and Border Protection, a lone agent was responding “to a report of illegal activity by Centeno Lane … where he discovered a group of illegal aliens” just after noon.

The statement adds:

“Initial reports indicate that as the agent attempted to apprehend the group, he came under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects. The agent fired at least one round from his service issued firearm, fatally wounding one of the assailants. The rest of the group fled the scene. Border Patrol Agents called for EMS and administered first aid until the Rio Bravo Fire Department arrived.”

In the video recorded after the shooting, the witness, Marta Martinez, follows an agent from a distance as he guides two detained men toward a Border Patrol vehicle. Martinez shouts at the man in Spanish, “Why do you mistreat them? Why did you shoot the girl? You killed her! They killed the girl! She’s dead!”

An unidentified Texas Highway Patrol officer approaches and tells Martinez, “You interfere, you’re going to be arrested. I’m just telling you.”

Border Patrol has since changed its account of the incident. After initially reporting that the agent who shot Gomez had been attacked by a group with “blunt objects,” the agency said Friday that the group “rushed” the officer, ignoring orders to get on the ground. The new statement also refers to the shooting victim as a “member of the group,” not “one of the assailants.”

Martinez told The New York Times that she did not see any weapons that the group of undocumented immigrants might have used and that she did not hear any agent yelling “Stop” or “Don’t run” at them.

The Times continues:

The F.B.I. is investigating the shooting, the authorities said, and agents on Wednesday spoke with Ms. Martinez and reviewed her videos.

On another part of the lot, which is empty except for a few trees, grass and overgrown weeds, an officer caught three men who were believed to be with the woman. As the officer escorted them away, Ms. Martinez said she heard him say: “See what happens? This is what happens with you people.”

Centeno Lane comes to a dead end at a part of the Rio Grande without a fence, making the area and the street a popular route for people who cross the border. Federal agents often zoom down the street, Ms. Martinez said, chasing after suspected undocumented immigrants.

Local immigration advocates have pushed back against militarization of the border.

“We don’t need any more protection. We’re safe,” said the founder of Laredo Immigrant Alliance, Karina Alvarez. “Our community really is in fear, we really think there should be accountability over Border Patrol agents.”

NPR continues:

In 2016, the Homeland Security Advisory Council looked into reports that border agents were not being held accountable for a rash of deadly shootings. The panel concluded that the “disciplinary process takes far too long to be an effective deterrent.”

Since then, Customs and Border Protection—the parent agency—has stressed training agents in use of nonlethal force and de-escalation techniques. Figures on the agency website show that “use of force involving firearms” dropped nearly 70 percent from 2012 to 2017. But it’s coming back. Agents used their guns nine times from October to March of this year, more than twice as many as the previous year.

Administration officials say that’s because assaults on border agents have spiked. But critics say the agency is playing with the numbers. In one incident in the Rio Grande Valley last year, first reported by the Intercept, six people threw rocks, bottles and branches at seven Border Patrol agents. By the Border Patrol’s tally, that added up to 126 separate assaults.

After Wednesday’s incident, the victim’s family held a news conference in Guatemala, asking for justice. “It’s not fair that they treat them like animals, just because they come from countries less developed,” Gomez’s aunt said.

Customs and Border Protection canceled a news conference on the shooting that had been scheduled for Friday.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig