VIDEO EMERGES: U.S. Border Patrol Killed Boy in Mexico for Throwing Rocks -- Mexico Soldiers Draw Rifles on US Border Patrol
Anger and discontent is growing on both sides of the border as live cellphone footage emerges of a 14-year-old boy being shot dead by a U.S. Border Patrol agent for throwing rocks near the main border crossing linking Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas, apparently on the Mexico side of the river. In a possibly dangerous escalation of tensions, the FBI has revealed that Mexican soldiers responded to the scene and drew their guns on the US Border Patrol, who also had guns drawn before they withdrew (VIDEO)
MEXICO CITY -- The 14-year-old boy shot dead earlier this week by a U.S. Border Patrol agent near the main border crossing linking Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas, was apparently part of a group that had been throwing stones at the agent, the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat said.
The secretariat condemned the killing of Sergio Adrian Hernandez in Juarez's riverside Puente Negro section on Monday and called on the United States to conduct "an expedited and transparent investigation of the incident and to punish those responsible."
"The use of firearms to repel attacks with stones represents an excessive use of force, especially coming from trained officers," the secretariat said.
The Office of the President issued a statement Tuesday condemning Hernandez's killing.
President Felipe Calderon expressed his "most heartfelt condolences and support to the victim's family," the statement said.
The U.S. State Department confirmed Tuesday that Border Patrol agents were involved in the shooting near the El Paso del Norte international bridge, a border crossing located in the northern section of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital.
The agents responded to a report that a group of illegal immigrants was near the bridge, the State Department said.
The agents, according to reports, were attacked with stones by a group of people and one of the agents fired his weapon, killing one of the suspects, the State Department said.
"We regret the loss of life," the State Department said.
FBI INVESTIGATION The FBI, which has jurisdiction in cases involving federal law enforcement officers, is investigating the shooting with the assistance of other federal agencies and the El Paso Police Department.
On Wednesday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said that shortly after the boy was shot, Mexican soldiers arrived at the scene and pointed their guns at the Border Patrol agents across the riverbank while bystanders screamed insults and hurled rocks and firecrackers. She said the agents were forced to withdraw.
A relative of the dead boy who had been playing with him told the Associated Press that the Mexicans — who he described as federal police, not soldiers — pointed their guns only when the Americans waded into the mud in an apparent attempt to cross into Mexico.
The Mexican authorities accused the Americans of trying to recover evidence from Mexican soil and threatened to kill them if they crossed the border, prompting both sides to draw their guns, said the 16-year-old boy who asked not to be further identified for fear of reprisal.
"This shooting across the border appears to have been a grossly disproportionate response and flies in the face of international standards, which compel police to use firearms only as a last resort," Susan Lee, Americas director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
The victim's mother alleged Wednesday that the Border Patrol agent was inside Mexico when he shot her son.
"He says he didn't realize it was a boy. How can that be when he was in front of him! He fired at point blank range, he was next to him," Maria Gua dalupe Guereca told the Televisa network.
"He (the Border Patrol agent) jumped into Mexico. He did not kill him in the United States. He shouldn't say that he was attacked by him. Other people attacked him," Guereca said.
The woman said her son did not take part in the stone throwing and was only watching from the Mexican side of the border.
"Why did my son have to pay for things other people did?" Guereca asked.
Hernandez did not cross into the U.S. side of the border because "his shoes were not dirty" with mud, Guereca said.
"He was on his land, not on foreign land, on strange land," the woman said.
Guereca said she wanted to see the Border Patrol agent punished severely, but not with the death penalty.
"He should pay with prison time, or I don't know what," the woman said.
The killing was an example of "abuse of power" and "brutality" by the Border Patrol, the boy's father, Jesus Librado Hernandez, told MVS radio.
"My son's mistake was to stick his head out to look at the other side and they shot him in the forehead, in the eyes," he said.
Relatives are holding a wake for the teenager at the family's house in the poor Ampliacion Plutarco Elias Calles section of the border city.
GROWING DISCONTENT The boy's death occurred a week after Mexican national Anastasio Hernandez Rojas died at a U.S. hospital after being beaten by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The 35-year-old Hernandez Rojas was beaten near the Tijuana-San Isidro border crossing moments before being deported to Mexico after living more than 20 years in nearby San Diego, California.
Mexico's independent National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, condemned the incident and said Hernandez Rojas was beaten by at least 20 U.S. federal agents for apparently "resisting repatriation."
"They hit him repeatedly and gave him electric shocks even when he no longer put up any resistance," the CNDH said.
Illegal immigration is one of the most contentious bilateral issues, with deportations and voluntary repatriations of Mexicans from the United States numbering in the hundreds of thousands every year.
Mexico's foreign ministry said the cases of Mexicans killed or injured in incidents involving use of force by US authorities have risen, "from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and 17 so far this year."
The increasing frequency of such incidents "reflects a disturbing increase in the use of excessive force by some authorities in the border area," the ministry said.
Illegal immigration has become a hot button issue in the US, especially in border states like Arizona, where a highly controversial law orders police officers to stop and interrogate anyone they suspect is an undocumented immigrant.
An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States. Roughly half a million people attempt to cross the 3,200-kilometer (2,000-mile) border from Mexico into the United States each year, according to official figures.
US President Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of up to 1,200 more troops on the border with Mexico to battle drug trafficking in addition to committing another $500 million to the effort.