10 Shots Across the Border
The morning after the shooting, James F. Tomsheck arrived at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, the headquarters of United States Customs and Border Protection, and made his way to the briefing held each weekday for a dozen of the agency’s top officials. Six years earlier, when Tomsheck was appointed head of the agency’s Office of Internal Affairs, it felt like the capstone of a long and distinguished career. A stolid Nebraskan with a precise, nearly affectless manner of speaking, Tomsheck had spent his entire adult life in law enforcement, first as a police officer in Omaha, his hometown, and later as a Secret Service agent. He busted counterfeiters in Detroit, worked the presidential detail under George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton and eventually became a deputy assistant director of the entire Secret Service, where he oversaw half of its field offices. In 2006, he was recruited to C.B.P. by his former boss at the Secret Service, Ralph Basham, who had been appointed the C.B.P.’s commissioner by George W. Bush.
Within a week of the incident, Tomsheck was at F.B.I. headquarters watching footage captured by the security cameras lining the border fence. According to him, the video ‘‘very clearly’’ shows the marijuana smugglers struggling to scale the fence, while the two Nogales police officers and a Border Patrol agent look on. (The footage has never been publicly released.) ‘‘They do not appear to be displaying any concern for their safety whatsoever,’’ Tomsheck says of the officers. ‘‘There are no weapons drawn. People have their hands on their hips, standing there watching. If you were to give a title to the video up to that point, it would be: ‘It’s Another Day at the Border.’ ’’
Then a second Border Patrol agent arrives on the scene. Immediately after emerging from his vehicle, according to Tomsheck’s description of the video, the agent walks to the fence, pulls out his gun and begins firing. The agent did not interact with the other law-enforcement officers on the scene. ‘‘He fired the round in chamber, all 12 rounds in the magazine, reloaded and fired at least one additional round,’’ Tomsheck says. ‘‘They seem absolutely shocked at first. There’s no audio, but they’re clearly thinking, What does he know that we don’t?’’
This is a long, involved article dealing with more than this one case, touching on constitutional issues, but mostly talking about Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez and his death.