CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Pointing their rifles, Mexican security forces chased away U.S. authorities investigating the shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the banks of the Rio Grande, the FBI and witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The killing of the Mexican by U.S. authorities - the second in
less than two weeks - has exposed the distrust between the two
countries that lies just below the surface, and has enraged
Mexicans who see the death of the boy on Mexican soil as an act of
Shortly after the boy was shot, Mexican security forces arrived
at the scene and pointed their guns at the Border Patrol agents
across the riverbank while bystanders screamed insults and hurled
rocks and firecrackers, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said. She
said the agents were forced to withdraw.
"It pretty quickly got very intense over on the Mexican side,"
she said, adding that FBI agents showed up later and resumed the
investigation, even as Mexican authorities pointed guns at them
from across the river.
Simmons said the forces were soldiers, but Mexico's Defense
Secretary later released a statement saying soldiers were not
present at the reported confrontation.
Enrique Torres, spokesman for the joint federal, state and
municipal police operation in Chihuahua, said federal and local
Mexican police were at the scene but not any soldiers.
A relative of the dead boy who had been playing with him told
the AP that the Mexicans - who he described as federal police, not
soldiers - pointed their guns only when the Americans waded into
the mud in an apparent attempt to cross into Mexico.
The Mexican authorities accused the Americans of trying to
recover evidence from Mexican soil and threatened to kill them if
they crossed the border, prompting both sides to draw their guns,
said the 16-year-old boy who asked not to be further identified for
fear of reprisal.
The confrontation occurred Monday night over the body of Sergio
Adrian Hernandez Huereka, who died of his wounds beside the column
of a railroad bridge connecting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso,
Each government has made veiled accusations suggesting
misconduct on the part of the other's law enforcement agents.
Hernandez was found 20 feet (six meters) into Mexico, and an
autopsy revealed that the fatal shot was fired at a relatively
close range, according to Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the
Chihuahua state attorney general's office. Mexican authorities said
a .40 caliber shell casing was found near the body, suggesting that
the Border Patrol agent might have crossed into Mexico to shoot the
That would violate the rules for Border Patrol agents, who are
supposed to stay on the U.S. side - and could open the agent to a
Mexican homicide prosecution.
A U.S. official close to the investigation told the AP that
authorities have a video showing that the Border Patrol agent did
not cross into Mexico. In fact, the official said, the video shows
what appear to be members of Mexican law enforcement crossing onto
the U.S. side, picking something up and returning to Mexico. The
official was not cleared to speak about the video and spoke only on
condition of anonymity.
Alejandro Pariente, Chihuahua state's regional deputy attorney
general, said the U.S. Border Patrol has given him video which he
is reviewing. He declined to describe it except to say that it has
sped up the investigation.
The two killings have provoked anger in Mexico like no other
recent controversy surrounding immigration, including Arizona's new
law making it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant and
President Barack Obama's decision to send the National Guard to the
Although many Mexicans were unhappy with both initiatives,
popular and official reaction had been subdued, in contrast to
street protests seen in previous years when the U.S. has cracked
down on the border. Many Mexicans have since given up hope for a
quick solution to the immigration problem, while other issues
including growing drug violence have taken center stage in
relations between the two countries.
That has started to change with the back-to-back deaths of two
Mexicans at the border: the teenager killed Monday, and migrant
Anastasio Hernandez, 42, who died after a Customs and Border
Protection officer shocked him with a stun gun at the San Ysidro
border crossing that separates San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.
Anastasio Hernandez, who had lived in the U.S. since he was 14,
was buried in San Diego on Wednesday.