A man from Hargill and his two teenage sons will remain in custody for their role in the shooting of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent, a state and federal judge decided Thursday.
The youngest of the trio — a 16-year-old boy who wore a mohawk, shackles and a blue uniform in juvenile court Thursday faced attempted capital murder charges in the 449th State District Court for being accused of firing the first round.
Judge Jesse Contreras, who is presiding over the juvenile’s case, ordered the 16-year-old to undergo a psychological evaluation — a standard procedure to determine if the alleged young offender is mentally fit to be tried as an adult. Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said the FBI, which led the investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked the Sheriff’s Office to pursue state charges against the boy.
Federal authorities rarely prosecute minors because the system in place is not apt to handle young criminals, Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said. “They can in very isolated cases, but they normally don’t,” he said. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office picked up where federal authorities left off. The sheriff said he asked the district attorney to try the boy as an adult.
“I thought it was extremely important that we do this,” Treviño said. “In my eyes he committed an adult crime, and he deserves adult punishment.” The completion of the process, however, will likely take months. The teen, who will turn 17 in October, will be held until his next scheduled hearing July 31. His father and brother will also remain in custody of federal authorities until at least Tuesday, when they are scheduled to attend a detention and bond hearing.
His father Pedro Alvarado, 41, and older brother Arnoldo Alvarado, 18, went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby to face federal charges that carry sentences between 10 years and life imprisonment. Both were charged with assault of a federal officer and knowingly carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The older of the two sons waived his Miranda rights and told federal investigators his father ordered him and his underage brother to get two guns after spotting a suspicious vehicle near their Hargill residence early Tuesday morning, federal court documents stated.
Pedro got behind the wheel of his vehicle with his 18-year-old son in the passenger seat and his 16-year-old in the back and drove up to the silver Jeep Cherokee parked near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 493 and Cemetery Road. Alvarado’s older son carried a 9 mm handgun while the younger son toted a .22-caliber rifle.
Their father turned off the vehicle’s lights as they approached the Jeep, from which Special Agent Kelton Harrison was conducting surveillance in anticipation of a drug transaction, court documents show.
“What alarmed me more than anything else is that they drove up to the agent and without asking any questions whatsoever they just came blasting — no warning, no nothing,” Treviño said. “And then, when the agent got out of there, they pursued him and continued firing at him. If that’s not a premeditated act of trying to kill somebody, I don’t know what is.”
It’s unclear if the trio knew at whom they were shooting, but the underage boy, who faced state charges, confessed to being the first to shoot at least six rounds at Harrison, Treviño said. His older brother also confessed to following suit by shooting twice into the air and numerous times at Harrison’s vehicle afterward.
It’s unclear who kept shooting at Harrison as both vehicles traveled north on FM 493, where the agent eventually lost control of the wheel and crashed into a bushy area.
Fellow agents rushed to Harrison’s aid after he suffered at least one gunshot wound to the back, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Initial reports indicated Harrison was shot twice in the abdomen. He continued to recover from the attack.
About a dozen ICE agents waited patiently Thursday morning at Bentsen Tower in McAllen for the federal court proceedings to begin for the 18-year-old Alvarado and his father. They sat among the suits, uniforms and dozens of illegal immigrants crammed into the courtroom to see the men accused of shooting an ICE special agent.
The word travels quickly when it comes to the ICE family, Magdalena Villalobos said in a phone interview. Her brother, ICE Special Agent Victor Avila, also was injured in the line of duty while on special assignment in Mexico in February 2011. Villalobos, who is representing him in a federal claim, said she was surprised to hear how quickly Avila had learned of the news. “He keeps up to date with what’s going on with his fellow officers,” she said of her brother, who remains on leave from ICE. “I’m sure he would love to reach out if there was a way.”
Avila continues to recover from the emotional distress he suffered when Zeta gunmen opened fire, injuring him and killing his partner Jaime Zapata, along a highway in San Luis Potosí state. “We found out the physical injuries are easier to heal than the emotional and mental trauma for an officer that goes through that,” Villalobos said. “It changes you. They go through a lot.”
Avila would like to hold a position where he can talk to fellow agents injured in the line of duty and walk them through the healing process, she said. “It happens a lot more than we’re aware of,” Villalobos said of attacks on federal officers. “It just changes an officer’s life. I wish Harrison well, and I hope he gets the help that he needs,” she said.
Original story: http://www.themonitor.com/articles/capital-62079-charged-mcallen.html