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Vigil in Nogales marks acquittal of Border Patrol agent

As traffic flowed along Calle Internacional, about 20 people held a vigil Tuesday evening on the street corner in Nogales, Sonora where 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez fell after he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent in 2012. 

The vigil came a day after the agent, Lonnie Swartz, was acquitted of second-degree murder by a federal jury. Jurors were deadlocked on lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, leaving open the possibility that prosecutors could attempt to retry the agent. 

The boy's family did not attend the vigil, though they thanked supporters in a statement through the American Civil Liberties Union, which has helped the family pursue a civil lawsuit against the U.S. government. 

"Jose Antonio's family is disappointed in the verdict," the statement read. "The family will continue to pursue justice in both the criminal and civil courts. The family is thankful to all those who supported us in our pursuit of justice in this case." 

Luis Parra, a lawyer who worked on the civil lawsuit, said that the family would continue to pursue civil litigation. The ACLU and a San Francisco-based law firm, Morrison & Foerster LLP have pursued the case as it shifted from federal court in Tucson to the 9th Circuit of Appeals, where the case is currently stayed pending a decision by the court. 

A similar case in Texas has bounced through the Fifth Circuit Court. 

"When my wife passed we had a memorial, and in the Jewish tradition, we say we remember," said Steve Teichner, who spoke at the vigil while Francisco Olachea translated into Spanish. "So I would just like to say, the loss of Jose Antonio, for his family and his community, we will remember. For those, now crossing borders, we will remember. For injustice against those who cross borders, and walk wherever they walk, we will remember," he said. 

Following a few brief comments by members of the Green Valley Samaritans, Sister Mariá Engracia Robles, a volunteer with the Kino Border Initiative, offered a prayer in Spanish, closing the small quiet event. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

About 20 people attended a vigil in Nogales, Sonora the day after the Border Patrol agent accused of shooting and killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was acquitted of second-degree murder by a federal jury.