Border Patrol Alters Account Of Guatemalan Woman's Death

The agency canceled a Friday news conference and instead issued a new statement.
A Border Patrol agent fatally shot Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, wh
A Border Patrol agent fatally shot Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, while responding to reports of illegal activity in Rio Bravo, Texas.

U.S. immigration authorities have altered their account of the Border Patrol’s recent fatal shooting of Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles, a 20-year-old woman who had traveled from Guatemala to Texas to help pay for her education.

After the shooting on Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection released a statement saying a lone Border Patrol agent was responding to a report of illegal activity near a culvert in Rio Bravo, Texas, when he “came under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects.”

“The agent fired at least one round from his service issued firearm, fatally wounding one of the assailants,” the statement read, referring to Gómez Gonzáles, a Maya-Mam indigenous woman.

Two days later, the agency canceled a scheduled news conference about the shooting and instead released a new statement with a different version of events, according to CNN.

The new statement, issued Friday, had no mention of “blunt objects” and claimed the agent ordered a group of immigrants to “get on the ground,” but they ignored his commands and “instead rushed him.”

The second statement also referred to Gómez Gonzáles as “one member of the group” instead of “assailant,” the term the agency used on Wednesday.

Customs and Border Protection did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment on its two different accounts of the shooting.

News of Gómez Gonzáles’ death spread after a video of the shooting’s aftermath, filmed by local resident Marta Martinez, was uploaded to Facebook and received more than 4.7 million views.

Martinez, who lives next to an empty lot where the shooting took place, told CBS News affiliate KENS 5 that she heard gunfire and began filming what she saw.

In Martinez’ video, paramedics can be seen performing chest compressions on the victim. Martinez can also be heard asking the immigration officials, “Why did you shoot at the girl? You killed her!”

Gómez Gonzáles reportedly graduated from a program in forensic accounting in 2016. Her mother Lidia Gonzáles told a local news channel that their family is poor, so her daughter went to the U.S. to look for a job to further her education, according to a translation by The Guardian.

“She told me she wanted to keep studying at university but we don’t have the money,” Gonzáles said. “We’re poor and there are no jobs here. That’s why she traveled to the U.S. But they killed her. Immigration killed her.” 

The FBI and the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident with assistance from CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The agent who shot Gómez Gonzáles is on administrative leave. 

Spokesmen for CBP and the FBI declined CNN’s request for comment on the shooting, citing the pending investigations.