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Border Patrol Changes Account In Fatal Shooting Of Migrant Woman

US Customs and Border Protection removed any mention of the agent who shot the 20-year-old woman being attacked with "blunt objects."

Posted on May 26, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. ET

Moises Castillo / AP

Dominga Vicente shows a photo of her niece, 20-year-old Claudia Patricia Gómez González.

US immigration authorities have changed their account of Wednesday's fatal shooting of a 20-year-old migrant woman by a Border Patrol agent, removing any mention of the agent being attacked by a group of migrant people wielding "blunt objects."

Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20-year-old woman from Guatemala, was shot dead in Rio Bravo in Texas on Wednesday.

US Customs and Border Protection said that a Border Patrol agent had discovered a group of migrant people near a culvert. "Initial reports indicate that as the agent attempted to apprehend the group, he came under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects," CBP said Wednesday.

But in a new statement on Friday, CBP said only that the agent, a 15-year veteran of the Border Patrol, was "allegedly assaulted" and "rushed." There was no mention of any blunt objects.

"According to the agent, the group ignored his verbal commands [to get on the ground] and instead rushed him," Friday's statement read.

In Wednesday's statement, Gómez González was described as "one of the assailants" who attacked the agent with blunt objects before he shot her. But in the statement released Friday, she was described as a member of the group.

Asked if CBP was now saying the migrants were not armed with any "blunt objects," CBP did not respond.

Marta Martinez, who lives next to the area where the woman was shot, said she went out of her house when she heard the shot and saw Gómez González on the ground among grass and trees. She didn't believe the migrants were armed or that they had attacked the agent.

"The girl was in the grass and trees; to me she was hiding," Martinez told BuzzFeed News. "They're saying they threw rocks at the agents, but the two migrants were scared and the one guy was scared — they didn't have rocks in their hands."

Martinez said the woman was bleeding from the left side of her face.

Three other undocumented immigrants were subsequently detained by responding agents, CBP said.

Last November, when a pair of Border Patrol agents were injured, one fatally, while investigating activity also near a culvert, the Border Patrol union and Republican lawmakers were quick to conclude that they had been attacked by migrants throwing rocks. The FBI later said there was no evidence of such an attack.

Gómez González was part of indigenous community in Guatemala, and left her country to escape poverty, according to local press.

Dominga Vicente, Gómez González's aunt, told El Periodico that her family wanted answers in the fatal shooting of her niece.

"She left with the intention of helping her family get ahead. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. We hope that an institution will help us and monitor the incident," Vicente said. "We want the person who shot my niece to be brought to justice and be taken out of his job so he can respect other people."

The agent, who has not been named, was placed on administrative leave. The shooting is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas Rangers with assistance from CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

CBP has said that assaults on Border Patrol agents are on the rise. Data released by the agency show a 73% jump in attacks on Border Patrol agents last year, from 454 in fiscal year 2016 to 786 in 2017.

However, the Intercept reported that CBP appears to have inflated those statistics. Specifically, the outlet found that a reported attack on seven Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector by six migrants in 2017 was tallied as 126 assaults — 119 more than would be counted using standard law enforcement accounting.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.