Vigil marks 2nd anniversary of fatal Border Patrol shooting

2013-03-22T00:00:00Z 2013-03-26T09:33:01Z Vigil marks 2nd anniversary of fatal Border Patrol shootingPerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

DOUGLAS - Guadalupe Guerrero walked slowly, clutching to her chest a picture of her son, fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent two years ago.

About 40 people walked about 45 minutes from the family's home, passing the high school Carlos Lamadrid graduated from in 2009, all the way to the border fence about 1 1/2 miles east of the Douglas Port of Entry, where he fell off a ladder with three gunshot wounds to his back.

The group gathered on both sides of the border for a vigil, held a prayer and listened to the story of his last minutes on March 21, 2011, sung by his former band members.

Marijuana in truck

The pursuit that led to the shooting began about noon when someone called Douglas police to report a gold Chevrolet Avalanche had been loaded with bundles of marijuana.

Police officers saw Lamadrid's truck and started following him, but he sped toward the border, police reports say, until he collided with a Border Patrol agent's SUV.

The 19-year-old then jumped out of his truck and ran toward the border fence, the report says.

As he climbed a ladder up the border fence, other men in Agua Prieta threw brick-size rocks at the agent, just missing him but hitting the SUV's windshield, according to reports.

As a man on the Mexican side of the border grabbed Lamadrid's wrist to try to help him up the ladder faster, Border Patrol Agent Lucas Tidwell fired a handful of rounds and Lamadrid tumbled off the ladder. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Officers found 48 pounds of marijuana in the teen's truck, according to newspaper reports at the time.

Cameras monitoring the border recorded everything but visibility was poor due to high winds and dust that day.

Attention waning

Lamadrid's mother said she continues to fight for justice.

Regardless of whether her son was carrying marijuana, he should have been tried in a court, she said, not killed.

Despite her trips to Washington, D.C., and her participation in marches in Nogales and San Diego, where similar incidents have happened, it's harder to keep attention on her son's case.

Thursday's vigil attendees were a third of what they were a year ago, with mostly friends and family joining her in remembering her son.

"Two years after your assassination, we continue to await justice," read a banner carried by the family, with a picture of Lamadrid playing his accordion.

"Remembering everything all over again is very painful," Guerrero said before the vigil. "But knowing that he is not alone, that he is being remembered, gives me strength to keep fighting."

Spring break volunteers

In the last several years, agents have shot at least 22 people nationwide. Nine of those cases have been in Southern Arizona.

But the cases are rarely resolved quickly.

Prosecutors still haven't said whether they plan to pursue charges against Tidwell. Guerrero sued the agent in federal court, and that is pending as well.

"No one has been able to tell me why a Border Patrol agent can't be tried," she said in Spanish.

Border Patrol agents are taught to use deadly force only when they or someone else is threatened with death. The rule applies to rock-throwing, since it can pose an imminent threat depending on how near the thrower is, and how big the rock.

Kasey Hilgenberg was among a small group at the vigil who were friends or relatives of Lamadrid. She and five other University of Northern Colorado students are volunteering with the Tucson-based Human Rights Coalition during their spring break and have researched shootings involving Border Patrol agents to humanize the issue.

"It hits close to home for us," she said, since Greeley, Colo., the town where the university is located, has a refugee center and a meat-packing plant that attracts immigrants.

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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