EL PASO, TX – (KTSM) has learned the El Paso Border Patrol agent killed in the line of duty over the weekend attended Irvin High School, according to former classmates.
Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died Sunday following an apparent attack by undocumented border-crossers, officials said. A spokesman with the El Paso Independent School District was unable to immediately confirm Martinez’s enrollment at Irvin due to the district being closed for Thanksgiving week.
Agent Martinez and his partner were on patrol Sunday morning near Van Horn when the attack happened. NBC News, citing a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council labor union, reports Martinez was hit “several times in the head with a blunt object, possibly a large rock.”
The agents had responded to “sensor activity” along the border, according to information in a new release from the Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Agents. The release states Martinez went to investigate as his partner stayed back to radio in the call. Martinez was then “jumped” by six drug smugglers. His partner was also beaten.
Border Patrol officials were not able to immediately confirm the details provided by the Fraternal Order. The Big Bend Sentinel reports an agency supervisor is refuting claims of an ambush. A Border Patrol agency news conference had been scheduled for Monday afternoon in Van Horn, but was postponed to Tuesday.
National Border Patrol Council Vice President Chris Cabrera said agents are often struck by rocks, some as large as a grapefruit or softball.
“It’s nothing to laugh at,” Cabrera told NBC News. “It’s something that will physically and permanently disfigure you, if not kill you.”
“We’ve had agents, a good friend of mine actually almost lost his eye,” he added. “It happens quite a bit, unfortunately.”
Martinez’s partner remains hospitalized with serious injuries and could be paralyzed, officials told KTSM. No suspects are currently in custody as the FBI now investigates.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has offered a $20,000 reward for information on Agent Martinez’s death. Those with tips are asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-252-8477.