San Diego – After a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 32-year-old mother of five in California on Friday, her father and brother spent Monday pleading for answers and justice.
In an emotional news conference in Chula Vista, San Diego, the family defended Valeria Alvarado, a woman shot to death by a border agent as he rode on the hood of her car after she allegedly ran into him. Authorities said the agent feared for his life after he was struck by Alvarado's car while attempting to serve a felony warrant in the area to someone else.
But the victim's family is not convinced by the accounts from authorities.
“I don’t know how to express myself about the death of my daughter,” said Valentin Tachiquin at the press conference, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. “All I can say is there are conflicting stories from what the people say, the eyewitnesses, and what the (Border Patrol is saying).”
The shooting occurred about five miles north of the Mexican border as plainclothes agents were looking to serve a felony warrant in the area to someone other than Alvarado, Border Patrol Deputy Chief Rodney Scott told U-T San Diego.
Scott said the agent was stuck atop the car as Alvarado drove.
"Fearing for his life, he discharged his weapon to get the vehicle to stop," Scott said. No other agents fired.
“As a U.S. citizen, my sister deserves justice,” said Antonio Tachiquin, a U.S. Army reservist and victim's brother, at the news conference according to the Union Tribune. “Even though she’s not here, the family will speak for her. All we want is answers. ... Now we, as a family, have to put together the pieces that were torn apart that day.”
Antonio was about to be deployed overseas when his sister was killed. He said his sister deserved more than to die the way she did.
Several hundred attended a candlelight vigil held on Monday night in Chula Vista near where Alvarado was killed.
Christian Ramirez of the Southern Border Community Coalition to the U-T Tribune that the shooting was ``troubling," in part because Alvarado was not wanted by law enforcement authorities and was a U.S. citizen. Ramirez demanded that the Border Patrol release the name of the agent involved in the shooting and any new details from the incident.
Several witnesses from the scene gave varying accounts of what happened. Some backed the authorities claims, others offered a different perspective.
Hector Salazar, one of several neighbors who witnessed the incident, said he saw a man in civilian clothes on the hood of a black car aiming a gun at the windshield.
Salazar told U-T San Diego the man started pulling the trigger, and he heard about five shots. Moments later, other plainclothes agents approached the car, he said.
Others like Ayanna Evans, 19, and Prince Watson, who both live in a nearby apartment building, said they never saw the agent on the car.
Evans happened to look out the window and saw the Honda backing up slowly, and a man in a red shirt walking toward the car.
"Then I heard, `Pop, pop, pop,'" she told the U-T.
Watson also backed up Evans
"She wasn't speeding or driving erratic at all. I heard the agent say, 'Stop.' He was in the street and started shooting and walking toward the car," Watson told the U-T. Border.
Contains reporting by the Associated Press.