More than 500 law enforcement officers, family and friends paid their respects Saturday to a West Texas border patrol agent who died last week. Details surrounding the agent’s death have yet to be revealed. Some Texas officials say the agent was the victim of an attack, while others claim the agent might have accidentally fallen while on patrol.
Thirty-six-year-old Rogelio Martinez was laid to rest Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Last weekend, the border patrol agent and his partner — who remains unnamed — were found in a culvert 12 miles outside of Van Horn.
Officials say the two suffered traumatic head injuries and other wounds. His partner reportedly has little memory what happened.
“It hurts,” says Ramiro Cordero with the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We’re going to miss one of our own when he goes, especially in circumstances like this.”
At the foot of the Franklin Mountains, a wavering American flag flew overhead, as fellow border patrol agents, family and friends entered Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church to pay their final respects to Martinez. The nearly hour-long mass featured a speech from Carla L. Provost, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Acting Chief, according to a program from the service. The streets near the church filled with law enforcement vehicles from Texas departments from as far away as Odessa and Dallas.
Several Texas officials attended the services, including Congressmen Will Hurd and Beto O’Rourke. It’s reported Attorney General Jeff Sessions also attended the church services.
“There are those that have to make the ultimate sacrifice, or that have made the ultimate sacrifice,” says Cordero. “And we’re here to render the honors to one that just did that.”
There are still questions surrounding the events that led to Martinez’s death. The FBI is investigating the event as a potential assault on a federal officer. But they aren’t ruling out accidental causes.
The FBI is offering two new details about the events surrounding Martinez’s death. Emmerson Buie, the special agent in charge of the El Paso division, says he’s investigating the case as a potential assault.
“We’re trying to gather the facts,” said Emmerson Buie, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s El Paso division, during a press conference last week. “And if the facts support that, then we will pursue it legally. If they support that the incident was caused by something else, then we’ll present that.”
The Bureau declined to say why they believe Martinez may have been assaulted, but said they aren’t ruling out the possibility his death was an accident. Buie says the FBI doesn’t have a full picture of what happened, and offered a $25,000 reward for information about the case. That’s on top of the $20,000 reward Texas Governor Greg Abbott already promised.