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FBI using billboards to seek info on death of Texas BP agent

The FBI announced Friday that it was expanding its search for information related to the death of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez in Texas two weeks ago. 

The agency said that it would use digital billboards along highways in Southwest border states, including Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, and Texas, to highlight a reward of up to $45,000 for information on the death of Martinez, who died after suffering severe head injuries, and was found in the bottom of a culvert along Interstate 10. 

Martinez's partner, an unidentified agent, also suffered serious head injuries in the incident.

While BP union representatives quickly claimed, with graphic details, that the pair of agents had been "ambushed by a group of illegal aliens," authorities are also looking into whether the agents may have been side-swiped by a truck while walking along the interstate.

The billboards are asking for information from anyone driving through Van Horn, a Texas town about 108 miles southeast of El Paso, from 10 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 18, said Emmerson Buie Jr., the FBI special agent in charge. 

Martinez was on patrol when he and his partner responded to "activity." Later, his partner reported that they were both injured and needed help, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The two men were found in a culvert about 12 miles east of Van Horn, the FBI said. Martinez died of his injuries the following day, and his partner survived, but said that he doesn't remember what happened. 

Following Martinez's death, lawmakers wasted little time before demanding more resources along the border. 

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbot called the incident "murder" and promised $20,000 for information that led to the arrest of anyone involved in the "attack." Texas Senator Ted Cruz sent out a statement calling the murder of Martinez, and the injuries to the other agent, was a "stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecured border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them." 

And, President Donald Trump tweeted his own push for the wall, writing: "Border Patrol Officer [sic] killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!" 

Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents Border Patrol agents, told the Washington Post that Martinez died of blunt force trauma to the head.

"I have been told by several agents that it was a grisly scene, and that his injuries were very extensive," Judd said. "We believe he was struck in the head with rocks, or multiple rocks." 

During a press briefing on the Tuesday following the incident, Buie said the agency was investigating the death as an attack, but would consider other possibilities, the Texas Tribune reported

"There are a number of possible scenarios. However, in this instance we are going to pursue the one that is most challenging as it's presented to us, which is potential assault," Buie said. 

Investigators are also considering the possibility that Martinez and his partner were sideswiped by a semi-tractor trailer's side mirror traveling on Interstate 10, sending the two men into the culvert below, reported the Dallas Morning News. 

The billboards will run from November 30 to December 8, the FBI said. 

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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