A Texas immigration jail warden and his twin brother have been arrested for allegedly shooting two migrants, one of them fatally, when the victims stopped to drink water near the US-Mexico border, authorities said.
The fatal confrontation took place on Tuesday night near the town of Sierra Blanca in west Texas.
The migrants were standing near a water tank along a farm when officials said Mike and Mark Sheppard, both 60, opened fire on them from a pickup truck.
The bullets killed a man and injured a woman, who was taken to the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso for treatment. The victims have not been named as of Friday.
The Sheppard twins were taken into custody in connection with the deadly shooting. The Texas Department of Public Safety said they face manslaughter charges, adding that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Border Patrol were assisting with the investigation.
Surviving witnesses told the authorities that the Sheppard brothers shouted profanities at them and told them in Spanish to come out after they had taken cover.
When interviewed by officials, the Sheppards claimed they were out hunting either grouse or javelina. They said they made no effort to determine what they had shot and drove off to attend a county board meeting.
According to reporting, until this week Mike Sheppard served as the warden of the West Texas Detention Center — a notorious private immigration jail located in Sierra Blanca, about 4 miles from the scene of the shooting.
A spokesperson for LaSalle Corrections, which operates the facility, said the warden there had been fired “due to an off-duty incident unrelated to his employment.”
A scathing 2018 report by the Intercept alleged that officials at the Sierra Blanca facility, helmed by Mike Sheppard, had verbally, physically and sexually abused 80 African detainees there.
Sheppard himself was accused of punching a man in the face and kicking him while he was handcuffed, yet he was allowed to retain his job despite formal complaints that were filed with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities.
The Texas Democratic Party said that attacks on migrants were the result of Texas Republicans’ “violent fearmongering of undocumented migrants.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, said she would like the deadly shooting in Sierra Blanca investigated by the DOJ as a hate crime.
“Migrants fleeing persecution in their home countries should not have to fear for their lives here.” Escobar tweeted. “I’m devastated by this news out of Hudspeth County. Time and time again inflammatory, demonizing Republican rhetoric turns into action.”
With Post wires