The woman shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol on Wednesday has been identified as Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles, a 20-year-old who had traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala in hopes of securing work to pay for her education.
Gómez Gonzáles was shot in the head when a Border Patrol agent fired on a group of people he believed to be undocumented immigrants in Rio Bravo, Texas.
The agent, who has been with Border Patrol for 15 years, said the group refused to get on the ground and instead rushed at him, at which point he opened fire, Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Friday. The group fled after Gómez Gonzáles was shot, CBP said, but three of the individuals were later apprehended.
News of the shooting quickly circulated after a local resident filmed the aftermath and uploaded it to Facebook. “Why did you shoot at the girl? You killed her!” the woman filming says in the video, in Spanish, as she approaches Border Patrol agents at the scene. “She wasn’t doing anything.”
Gómez Gonzáles was a Maya-Mam indigenous woman and had reportedly graduated from a program in forensic accounting in 2016. She had hoped to further her education, her father, Gilberto Gómez, told the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.
Lidia Gonzáles, the woman’s mother, told a local news channel that the family didn’t have enough money for her daughter to continue her studies.
“She told me she wanted to keep studying at university but we don’t have the money,” Gonzáles said, according to a translation by The Guardian. “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.”
Gonzáles said she hoped her daughter’s body would be sent back home.
The FBI and the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident with assistance from CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The agent responsible for Gómez Gonzáles’ death is currently on administrative leave, CBP said in a statement.
There have been at least two other reported fatal shootings by officers on duty since the beginning of 2017. In November, a CBP agent shot and killed a suspected undocumented immigrant, who the agency claimed grabbed another agent’s gun. In September, Border Patrol agents shot and killed a man following a car pursuit and exchanges of gunfire, CBP said.
Since the beginning of 2017, at least seven people have died in car accidents while fleeing border agents.