A shoot-out typically means a gun battle occurred. A gun battle tells us that dueling parties fired multiple rounds at each other. A recent incident at the US-Mexico border is being billed as if an exchange of gunfire took place. The truth is, that only a single shot was fired by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer using a sniper rifle from a great distance away.

On March 3, 2024, U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) Border Patrol agents were conducting operations in the Puebla Tree area of the Otay Mountains, approximately five miles east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. BORTAC was actively monitoring this area – where there is a paved road winding through the mountains – because of recent reports of armed robberies and assaults targeting groups of migrants crossing into the United States. A small group of BORTAC agents was concealed approximately 70 yards north of the border along a ravine near the paved road. Additional BORTAC agents, including a precision marksman, were positioned on high ground approximately 275 yards away, providing overwatch of the area.

Despite the official accounts from border patrol agents and witnesses, some far-right media outlets are billing the incident as a ‘gun battle’. The idea of a gun battle began when Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council suggested it during an interview on Fox News. But according to a press release from CBP–as noted below–that is not what happened. It’s worth noting that Judd has spread the racist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory that suggests Jews are funding efforts to eradicate white people from society.

Based on witness interviews conducted by investigators, a group of migrants was walking on the paved road in the early morning hours when they were approached by four individuals, at least one of whom was armed with a handgun. According to the witnesses, the armed individual demanded money from the group, racked his pistol to chamber a round, and pointed the weapon at one of the migrants. Then the migrants heard a single gunshot and observed the armed individual fall to the ground. The migrants informed investigators they did not know from where the gunshot was fired.

The person who was shot died from his injuries. The incident is under investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility while the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has been notified, according to the CBP statement. CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board will also review the incident after the investigation. 

The CBP statement also emphasized “expeditiously releasing the body-worn camera footage” as soon as is “appropriate to do so and without impacting the ongoing law enforcement investigations” per the Executive Order on Advancing Effective Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety issued on May 25, 2022.

Read the full CBP media release here.

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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