TUCSON — A Border Patrol agent was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed Mexican national who was shot twice in the back north of the border near Nogales, Ariz.
Agent Michael Andrew Elmer, 29, was arrested Saturday after his supervisors learned of the shooting from another Border Patrol agent. Elmer was later charged with the Friday night murder of Dario Miranda Valenzuela, 26, of Nogales, Sonora.
The Mexican government has retained a Tucson lawyer to investigate the case, and relatives of Valenzuela condemned the Border Patrol.
"They are assassins," said Maria Valles, one of Valenzuela's cousins. "He was running when they shot him. Why couldn't they just arrest him?"
Elmer was among five agents who had a remote canyon near Nogales under surveillance for drug smuggling.
Sheriff's Maj. Ramon Romo would not say whether any weapons or drugs were found at the scene.
Arturo Guerrero Valenzuela, the dead man's brother, said his brother and a brother-in-law were only attempting to cross the border to find work.
"It was a racist crime. My brother never had any weapons (or) drugs. He didn't have any (immigration) papers and he was crossing to come and work with us in Tucson."
The Sheriff's Department and the U. S. Justice Department are investigating, said Border Patrol spokesman Steve McDonald.
"The entire situation is being investigated to obtain the facts," he said.