September 10, 2008

Video shows border gunman

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times

Video: A U.S. Border Patrol surveillance camera video shows a man who crossed the border with a rifle he aimed at motorists at about 1 a.m. Sunday on West Paisano Drive west of Downtown El Paso. The man was later caught by Juarez police as he tried to flee. (Courtesy of U.S. Border Patrol)

EL PASO -- A potentially dangerous situation arose Sunday when a man was aiming a rifle at cars on West Paisano Drive after illegally crossing the Rio Grande near Asarco, U.S. Border Patrol officials said Tuesday.

"It looked like he was getting ready to take random shots," Agent Jose Romero, a Border Patrol spokesman, said. "We don't know at who or why."

No shots were fired and no injuries were reported in the incident at about 1 a.m. that was filmed by night-vision cameras on the road along the border just west of Downtown, officials said.

The incident comes as El Paso law enforcement is on heightened alert due to a drug cartel war in Juárez and intelligence that narco-traffickers may go after targets in the United States.

A black-and-white video shows a man crouching, taking aim with a rifle and then making a pumping motion, as done with air rifles. The camera pans to show cars traveling on West Paisano.

Romero said agents blocked the road as a safety precaution and called Juárez police for help. As agents approached, the man retreated to Mexico and tossed the rifle into the river before Juárez police arrived. The rifle was not recovered.

Juárez police arrested Cruz Perez Lara, 47, for being in an unauthorized area, police officials said.

The incident occurred at a hot spot for immigrant and drug crossings.

Smugglers have been known to create diversions, including assaults on agents, for crossing attempts. A bullet-proof glass shield pocked with impact craters stands at a Border Patrol surveillance point.

West Paisano had a dangerous reputation years ago because bandits from Juárez would block the road to rob motorists at night. The banditry stopped due to fencing, lights and more Border Patrol vigilance.

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