A Bullet For A Rock? : Tell Me More NPR Producer Brakkton Booker questions whether a U.S. Border Patrol agent went too far when he shot and killed a teenage boy who was allegedly part of a group throwing rocks at agents.
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A Bullet For A Rock?

A lot of political junkies were transfixed by the storylines and matchups resulting from a Tuesday full of important primary election results. I, on the other hand, was captivated by another story. (Well, maybe it's better characterized as an “incident.”)

Earlier this week, a 14-year-old Mexican boy named Sergio Adrian Hernandez Güereca was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The boy was allegedly part of a group throwing rocks at agents while they attempted to detain illegal immigrants on the U.S. side of the border, near El Paso.

An unidentified relative of 14-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka stands over his coffin at his home during his wake in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Tuesday. AP hide caption

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From here the facts are a little hazy, but it was confirmed that the boy died from a single gunshot to the head and in Mexican territory. He may or may not have posed a threat to the Border Patrol agent, according to reports.

Of course, this incident has the potential to transform an already dicy political situation on the subject of immigration from bad to worse.  I'll leave that for the pundits to hammer out.

I am more curious about the use of a gun in this case.

Might there have been a better tactic?

Now let me be clear, I'm not advocating throwing stones at federal officers trying to secure United States borders. I'm certainly aware of the injury that being hit by a rock can inflict.

Rep. Sylvester Reyes, a Democrat of Texas, who served in the Border Patrol for nearly 30 years, was quoted in the El Paso Times today as saying:

When I was chief I used to have a rock on my desk just so people could understand, because when people say, 'rocks,' different people have different interpretations.

Noted, Congressman.

But are you saying that a simple warning shot in the air wouldn't have been able to cause a group of individuals to stop hurling rocks (if, in fact, Guereca was throwing them)?

Like host Michel Martin, I’m just going to keep it real.

I've heard gunshots before (thankfully, none aimed at me) and I know when you hear one, you take cover. You DON'T keep tempting fate, stand in the open and toss rocks when your "opponent" has live ammunition.

I do hope thorough investigation shows what really happened. And with that we can all judge for ourselves whether it was worth the life of a teenage boy.