Shootout in Juárez, bul­lets in El Paso

City Hall hit by seven shots, prompt­ing AG to speak out

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Ali­cia A. Cald­well

EL PASO — A deadly shootout be­tween gun­men and Mex­i­can po­lice that left seven bul­let holes in El Paso City Hall has re­newed calls for tighter border se­cu­rity, even as lo­cal au­thor­i­ties say lit­tle can be done to stop stray bul­lets from cross­ing the border.

Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties said the shootout be­gan Tues­day be­tween po­lice and armed sus­pects in Juárez — a city plagued by drug vi­o­lence just across the Rio Grande from El Paso — as of­fi­cers were try­ing to in­ves­ti­gate a ve­hi­cle with no li­cense plates in a border-area park­ing lot within view of El Paso City Hall.

Po­lice and the gun­men ex­changed at least 40 shots, and El Paso po­lice think seven of those bul­lets flew over the border — trav­el­ing more than a half-mile — and hit City Hall. No one was in­jured in El Paso, but a Mex­i­can fed­eral po­lice of­fi­cer and a by­stander in Juárez were killed.

Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Greg Abbott wrote Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Wed­nes­day to say that the “cross-border gun­fire” was more proof that the state “is un­der con­stant as­sault from il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity threat­en­ing a por­ous border.”

In his let­ter to Obama, Abbott said “good for­tune” pre­vented any in­juries when a sin­gle bul­let went through a ninth-floor of­fice win­dow but in­sisted the in­ci­dent was ev­i­dence of the need for more border se­cu­rity.

“Luck and good for­tune are not ef­fec­tive border en­force­ment poli­cies,” Abbott wrote.

The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to ques­tions about Abbott’s let­ter.

More than 5,000 peo­ple have been killed in Juárez since the Si­naloa and Juárez car­tels started fight­ing for con­trol of the sprawl­ing border city in 2008. Day­light shoot­ings have be­come com­mon­place.

De­spite con­cerns of spillover vi­o­lence from Mex­ico’s bloody fight against drug car­tels, many border cities, in­clud­ing El Paso, have re­mained largely un­scathed.

So far this year, El Paso has recorded one homi­cide, com­pared with more than 1,300 killings in Juárez.

El Paso City Man­ager Joyce Wil­son shrugged off sug­ges­tions that more se­cu­rity could pre­vent stray bul­lets from fly­ing across the border.

“A (mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar) wall didn’t stop bul­lets,” Wil­son said, re­fer­ring to the border fence built dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ge­orge W. Bush. “It’s an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity of where we are.”

Abbott is among a grow­ing num­ber of politi­cians from across the coun­try ar­gu­ing for more border se­cu­rity.

Ear­lier this year, Ari­zona rancher Robert Krentz was shot to death in a re­mote stretch of desert on his prop­erty about 20 miles from the border. Krentz’s killing prompted an out­cry about border se­cu­rity, and Ari­zona law­mak­ers later passed a con­tro­ver­sial law giv­ing lo­cal po­lice author­ity to ask about in­di­vid­u­als’ im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

Obama has or­dered up to 1,200 Na­tional Guard sol­diers to the border.

Mark Lam­bie

Of­fi­cials say this bul­let hole in the wall of an El Paso City Hall of­fice came from a gun fired across the border dur­ing a shootout in Juárez.

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