© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas National Guard shoots man found wounded on Juárez bank of Rio Grande

A Texas National Guardsmen on Dec. 21 speaks to migrants waiting on the El Paso side of the Rio Grande through a megaphone, telling them that it is illegal to be in this area and they must go back to Mexico.
Corrie Boudreaux
El Paso Matters
A Texas National Guardsmen on Dec. 21 speaks to migrants waiting on the El Paso side of the Rio Grande through a megaphone, telling them that it is illegal to be in this area and they must go back to Mexico.

This story was produced as part of the Puente News Collaborative, a binational partnership of news organizations in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso.

CIUDAD JUAREZ – A Texas National Guard soldier on duty in El Paso fired a shot toward a Mexican national, who was found wounded along the banks of the Rio Grande in Juárez over the weekend.

The victim, identified by the Mexican authorities as Darwin José García, 37, originally from Veracruz in eastern Mexico, was shot in his right leg. After being treated by paramedics on the scene, he was transported to a Juárez hospital, where he was later released, according to various Juárez officials.

The shooting occurred at about 8:50 p.m. Saturday on the Mexican banks of the Rio Grande near Rafael Pérez Serna avenue, which is adjacent to the Bridge of the Americas, according to official reports.

Authorities from the Texas Military Department confirmed via email to La Verdad that on Saturday night, a Texas National Guardsman assigned to Operation Lone Star in the El Paso sector fired a weapon in the incident.

The Texas Military Department declined to respond to questions from El Paso Matters about the shooting, including whether a National Guard soldier fired into Mexico. The agency issued only a brief statement.

“On the night of 26 August, a National Guard service member assigned to Operation Lone Star discharged a weapon in a border-related incident. The incident is under investigation. More information will be made available as the investigation progresses,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said they are aware of the reports but directed media to state officials in Texas and Chihuahua for details of the investigation.

A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson provided minimal information on the investigation.

“On the evening of Aug. 26, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers responded to a call of a shooting involving a National Guard Soldier along the Texas/Mexico border in West Texas. The incident is now under investigation by the Texas Rangers and no additional information is available at this time,” spokesperson Ericka Miller said.

State Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, called the shooting an “escalation” in Operation Lone Star, which he has long criticized.

“I am deeply troubled by this escalation in force on our border by the State of Texas. We are not at war with Mexico,” Blanco said.

U.S. Border Patrol officials told El Paso Matters that the agency was not involved in the shooting and that the incident is being investigated by the Texas Rangers.

Special Agent Jeanette Harper, spokesperson for the FBI in El Paso, confirmed that the shooting investigation is being led by the Rangers, with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations “involved for the non-documented individuals.”

Harper said the FBI is serving as a liaison between state and Mexican authorities.

The Border Network for Human Rights based in El Paso on Monday said the injured man was not attempting to cross the border, but was “practicing sports near the border while a group of migrants was crossing the border.”

The organization is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate “the disproportionate and illegal use of lethal force.” In a press release, the group also called for the removal of Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers from border communities.

“We are deeply appalled by the actions of the Texas National Guard, which under Gov. (Greg) Abbott’s leadership has continued to usurp Federal authority and unleash unnecessary chaos at our southern border,” BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia said.

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso also called for a Justice Department investigation.

“Abbott has repeatedly lied about immigrants invading our country, continues to tear families seeking safety apart at our borders and dehumanizes them to boot,” Las Americas Executive Director Marisa Limón Garza said.

The shooting was reported to Juárez’s 911 center at 8:51 p.m. on Saturday, according to the State Public Security Secretary of Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office would only say that a male had been injured in the vicinity of the international bridge and that investigations are being carried to find out where the man was when he was shot. The attorney general’s office did not provide any other details.

Chihuahua Health authorities confirmed that the injured man was taken to the General Hospital, where he was treated for a bullet wound to his right leg, which had an entry and exit wound.

After being stabilized, the man was discharged, according to Ministry of Health spokesman Rodolfo Cortés.

Since December 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed guardsmen to El Paso as part of the controversial Operation Lone Star.

Earlier this year, a Texas National Guardsman shot and wounded a migrant in Mission, a city in Hidalgo County just west of McAllen. The guardsman, Spc. Angel Gallegos, won’t face civilian criminal charges in the Jan. 13 shooting, the Texas Tribune and Military Times reported.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

El Paso Matters assistant editor Cindy Ramirez contributed to this report.