Claudia Gomez (Family photo/handout)

Lawmakers to FBI: Don’t Let Investigation of Border Patrol Shooting Be Compromised

The co-chairwomen of the House Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform are asking for a transparent FBI investigation into the May 23 killing of Guatemalan immigrants Claudia Patricia Gómez González by the U.S. Border Patrol and expressed concern that key witnesses could be deported.

The 20-year-old was shot near the Mexican border in Rio Bravo, Texas; Gómez’s family said she was trying to reunite with her boyfriend who had been living in the United States for a year. CBP said an agent was responding to a report of illegal activity at about 12:30 p.m. local time when he encountered suspected undocumented immigrants and ordered them to get on the ground.

“According to the agent, the group ignored his verbal commands and instead rushed him,” CBP said in a statement May 25. “The agent discharged one round from his service-issued firearm, striking one member of the group.”

“The agent broadcasted shots fired over the service radio and called for EMS,” the statement added. “First aid was rendered to the woman until the Rio Bravo Fire Department arrived.” Three immigrants from the group were arrested.

A previous statement said the group attacked the agent with “blunt objects”; this was dropped from CBP’s later statement. The previous statement also described Gómez as an “assailant”; this was also not in the later version.

The FBI, the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility began investigating the incident. The agent was placed on administrative leave.

In a Friday letter, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told FBI Director Christopher Wray that “in light of U.S. Border Patrol’s changing narrative about the events that unfolded, we write to express our concern that your investigation could be compromised by misinformation and the intimidation of witnesses who could be deported before they are able to give their testimony.”

“We also write to urge the FBI’s investigation to be transparent and include all relevant witnesses,” they added.

Roybal-Allard and Jayapal wrote that “the death of an immigrant seeking a better life in the United States is heartbreaking.”

“Moreover, an act of force that results in the death of an individual at the hands of our nation’s U.S. Border Patrol merits a thorough and just investigation so that policymakers can understand the circumstances that led to the loss of life and work to prevent it from happening again,” states the letter. “Therefore, at the conclusion of the investigation we request a complete briefing on your investigative process and findings.”

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