A Texas toddler is recovering after being shot in the back when Mexican soldiers mistakenly opened fire on her mom's SUV last week in a town just south of the border..
According to KRGV-TV, the 18-month-old little girl was released from a San Antonio hospital Monday after surviving the harrowing incident that also left her mother wounded. It began when members of the Mexican military started chasing an SUV near the town of Camargo, just across the U.S. border from Rio Grande City, Texas, according to the unnamed child's mother Saida De La Torre, who spoke the the station through an interpreter.
“I was going to pick up my oldest daughter and was on the road when we heard gunshots,” De La Torre, who was visiting her parents in Mexico and behind the wheel of her SUV when gunfire broke out. “I told my cousin that we need to go back to my parent’s house because it looked like something was going on. When I made a turn, I saw a vehicle with soldiers traveling really fast.”
"I didn't realize it until I got to the house, and I went to get her out of the truck. That's when I saw she was wounded.”
- Saida De La Torre
The soldiers apparently had fired gunshots at an SUV that looked like her Dodge Nitro. She said that after she turned around, suddenly out of nowhere the soldiers reappeared.
“Everything seemed to be normal while I was driving back, but then I heard gun shots again,” De La Torre told the station. “They sounded a lot closer. I began to realize the soldiers were following me. I thought they were following the truck that I had seen speeding. I think they got confused and thought my truck was the one they were first chasing. They started firing at us.”
At the house she ran to her father.
“I screamed to him that they were shooting at us,” she told KRGV. “The soldiers pulled up and parked right behind my truck.”
She said they got out with their weapons drawn as her father confronted them.
As he did, she checked on her daughter and saw the blood. Her baby girl had been shot in the back.
“Fragments of the bullets hit me on the face, my hands and my legs, that's it,” De La Torre said. “My little girl did get hit with a bullet. I didn't realize it until I got to the house, and I went to get her out of the truck. That's when I saw she was wounded.”
Her father pleaded with the soldiers to take the baby to the hospital.
Instead, they looked for drugs in De La Torre’s SUV. When they found none, De La Torre said they left with smiles on their faces.
Local authorities told her they found the truck they were chasing and arrested several suspects.
She told the station she was given an apology.
Her daughter underwent surgery at the hospital in San Antonio.
Mexican authorities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas confirmed Wednesday that the toddler was shot by soldiers who were tracking another vehicle carrying drug suspects.
Guadalupe Salinas, the head of the state's federal prosecutors' office, said the child was grazed by a bullet and the child's mother suffered slight wounds from bullets or glass fragments.
"The soldiers were following an SUV, and at that moment [the family] got in the middle," Salinas said. "[The soldiers] thought they were the bad guys. They got to the car and realized that, no, it was women and children."
The area is controlled by the Gulf cartel and has been the scene of violent turf battles with the rival Zetas cartel.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said it was aware of reports that a US citizen had been wounded, but declined to provide any additional details, citing privacy policies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.