National Guard soldier shoots Mexican across the border

National Guard troops stand guard near a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Aug. 24, 2023. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Theresa Braine
New York Daily News

Local authorities are launching an investigation after a Texas National Guard member fired his gun from El Paso, Tex., toward Juarez, Mexico, over the weekend and allegedly hit a Mexican national across the Rio Grande.

The shooting victim, whom Mexican authorities identified as 37-year-old Darwin José García, was hit in the right leg Saturday night at about 8:50 p.m., KVIA-TV reported. The Spanish-language El Diario de El Paso reported that the victim was 22 and didn’t give his name.

U.S. officials with knowledge of the shooting, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post that the soldier fired after seeing three men on the Mexican side of the border attacking a group of migrants with a knife as they tried to cross the river. He was part of Operation Lone Star, the controversial border-enforcement initiative started in 2021 by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that amps up the number of National Guard soldiers and Texas state troopers along the border with Mexico.

“One of the bandits was trying to stab the migrants, and that’s when the National Guard fired,” the unidentified official told The Post.

The shooting victim was first thought to have been a migrant himself, according to El Diario. However, he told the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso-based advocacy group, that he’d been “practicing sports near the border while a group of migrants was crossing” when he was shot, a spokesperson told the Daily News. He was taken to a local hospital in Juarez and released.

The Texas Military Department issued a brief statement obtained by KVIA.

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

The Texas Department of Public Safety told The News it is investigating the incident.

While it’s rare for a U.S. soldier to discharge a weapon against a civilian while on U.S. soil, it could be sanctioned if lives were in danger, experts said.

“This is not something you’d want to see become normalized, and they’re really going to have to prove there was an imminent risk of a loss of life or serious injury,” Adam Iscason, a security analyst at the human rights group Washington Office on Latin America, told The Post.

The Border Network demanded that Texas National Guard members and Department of Public Safety troopers be removed from border communities and called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

“We are deeply appalled by the actions of the Texas National Guard, which under Gov. Abbott’s leadership has continued to usurp federal authority and unleash unnecessary chaos at our southern border,” the network’s Executive Director Fernando Garcia said in a statement to the Daily News.

With News Wire Services

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