SAN DIEGO — Authorities Wednesday charged an Imperial Beach man with first-degree murder in the shooting of a 12-year-old Mexican boy as the youth walked with his family along a border hillside on the U.S. side.
The death in May of Emilio Jimenez Bejines is one of a number of homicides along the U.S.-Mexican border this year that led the presidents of both Mexico and the United States to condemn the growing violence.
The suspect, Dwight Ray Pannel, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested Wednesday at his home and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail. He was also charged in several robberies and an assault case involving illegal aliens earlier on the day of the murder.
Shortly before he allegedly fired the shot, according to a witness quoted in court papers, Pannel said, "Let's shoot some aliens." He then fired a .30-caliber hunting rifle toward a hillside where many immigrants had gathered, the witness told investigators. Pannel allegedly fired from the rear balcony of the home of a friend who lives about half a mile north of the international boundary, in an area regularly traversed by migrants headed north.