Funeral held for US border agent whose death not explained

Pallbearers carry Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for a funeral Mass, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 in El Paso, Texas. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Family, friends and law enforcement officers converged on West Texas Saturday to mourn a Border Patrol agent whose death last weekend in rugged, remote area has not been explained.

Bagpipes played as pallbearers carried the U.S. flag-draped coffin of Rogelio Martinez into a Catholic church in El Paso for a private funeral. He died last weekend of head and other injuries.

“It honors him to see law enforcement agencies from across the United States” attend the service, Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero told reporters gathered outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Martinez died Sunday and his partner, whose name has not been released, was seriously injured. They were found late Saturday in a culvert, in a rugged area near Van Horn, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the border with Mexico and 110 miles (175 kilometers) southeast of El Paso.

Speculation about the incident has run rampant with several politicians saying the agent was attacked, including President Donald Trump, who used the death to highlight his support for building a wall on the border with Mexico. Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. in the FBI’s El Paso office has said investigators were treating the incident as a “potential assault,” but they could not rule out other scenarios.

Representatives from the border patrol’s union have insisted that the incident was an attack, based on the accounts of other agents who responded to the scene. Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, told The Associated Press that agents responding to the scene called it “grisly.”

However, a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Monday that the agents may have fallen, and that the surviving agent had no memory of his duty-shift. The official spoke on condition of anonymity and is not authorized to speak publicly.

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