Friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers converged on El Paso Saturday to mourn a Border Patrol agent who died last weekend after what his union insists was an ambush.
Bagpipes played as Border Patrol pallbearers in green uniforms carried the U.S. flag-draped coffin of Rogelio Martinez, 36, into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for a private funeral Mass. He died in a hospital Sunday of head and other injuries.
“It honors him to see law enforcement agencies from across the United States” attend the service, Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero told reporters outside the church.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was scheduled to attend the funeral but it was not clear if he was there. Following the funeral, a graveside ceremony was held at Restlawn Cemetery in El Paso.
Martinez was found Nov. 18 in a culvert along with his seriously injured partner, whose name has not been released, in a rugged area near Van Horn, about 30 miles from the border with Mexico and 110 miles southeast of El Paso.
On Tuesday, Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News that it appeared the agents were “ambushed” by a group of illegal immigrants.
“We don’t know exactly what happened because we weren’t there. However, just from agents that were working in the area, reports are saying it was an attack and it would appear to be an ambush,” said Judd, who added, “there’s a high likelihood this was an assault on the agents.”
However, Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. in the FBI’s El Paso office has only said investigators were treating the incident as a “potential assault” and could not rule out other scenarios.
After the death of Martinez, his father told the El Paso Times that his son loved his job. Jose Martinez said his son would call him every day to say goodbye for the night.
“And I would tell him, ‘Take care of yourself son. God bless you,”‘ the father said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.