The U.S. Border Patrol says agents were trying to detain several undocumented immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally when they were attacked and opened fire killing a woman.
She was identified later by friends and family as Claudia Gómez González, a 20-year-old indigenous woman from Quetzaltenango in the highlands of Guatemala.
The agent was investigating a report of illegal activity on Wednesday near the Rio Bravo, just south of Laredo, when he came across the group. The agency said in an initial statement Thursday that the agent was trying to take them into custody when "he came under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects." In a statement the Border Patrol added: "The agent fired at least one round from his service issued firearm, fatally wounding one of the assailants. The rest of the group fled the scene."
In a statement Friday the Border patrol changed its story and made no mention of blunt objects. Instead, it said he opened fire after the migrants "ignored his verbal commands and instead rushed him."
The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting.
"I want justice for ... my princess"
The dead woman's boyfriend, Yosimar Morales, 18, told Univision News he was looking forward to being reunited with her after a year apart and they planned to marry.
"I feel my heart is destroyed by the tragedy ... sadly she leaves a emptiness in my heart. It hurt a lot to lose the woman I loved so much."
In an emotional video posted on social media, he said: "I want justice for what happened to my princess."
The Guatemalan consulate in Del Rio issued a statement rejecting "violence and excessive use of force by the Border Patrol" and called for an exhaustive investigation. It also urged that the rights of its citizens, "regardless of their immigration status, be respected at all times."
The family of Gomez in Guatemala urged the Border Patrol not to confuse peaceful Central American migrants with gang members, who President Trump has branded “animals.”
“To the government of the United States, (I ask) that you do not treat us like this - like animals - just because you are a powerful and developed country,” Dominga Vicente, Gomez’s aunt, told reporters in Guatemala City.
The incident aftermath was partially recorded by a witness, Marta Martínez, who was in her house when she heard a gunshot. She went outside and saw a girl who had been shot in the head lying face down among some bushes and trees.
"Why did you shoot the girl? You killed her!" she shouted in Spanish. "They killed the girl! She's dead!"
A Texas Highway Patrol officer approaches and tells Martinez that "you interfere, you're going to be arrested. I'm just telling you."
The shooting comes as President Donald Trump has ordered federal agents to crack down on illegal immigration along the 2,000-mile border, while also pushing to expand construction of a wall along the 2,000-mile border. Trump also last month sent National Guard troops to help secure the border, despite a recent drop in the number of people crossing the border illegally which is currently at its lowest in decades.
Last year, there were 17 use-of-force cases with firearms by Border Patrol agents, down from 55 in 2012, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Last month, a federal jury in Arizona aquitted another border agent of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of a teenager in Nogales, Mexico. He is being retried on lesser charges.
With reporting by Patricia Clarembaux and Liliana Cadavid