Immigrants Fired on by Texas Police Helicopter Identified

Two immigrants killed by a Texas state police helicopter while they were driving near the Mexico border were identified Monday.

Alba Caceres (KAH'-sehr-es), Guatemala's consul in McAllen, says the victims were Marco Antonio Castro and Jose Leonardo Coj Cumar (KOH koo-MAHR'), of San Martin (mar-TEEN') Jilotepeque (hee-LOH'-tuh-pek), about an hour outside the capital.

Caceres expressed her government's indignation and made a formal request for a thorough investigation to the Texas Rangers on Friday. She was trying to interview survivors. She didn't know when the bodies would be released to the families, but said it could be delayed by the investigation.

A trooper had fired on the pickup truck the two were in because the driver refused to stop and officers concluded it was carrying a “typical covered drug load.” A trooper fired from a Department of Public Safety helicopter and blew out the tires, causing the vehicle to crash into a ditch.

Eight people in the vehicle were arrested. The officer who fired at the vehicle, a police sharpshooter, was placed on administrative leave.

Texas officials have defended their actions, saying the car was driving recklessly and refused to stop. But experts have expressed dismay that the immigrants were fired on by an overhead helicopter.

“In 25 years following police pursuits,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina professor of criminology and an expert on police chases. “I hadn’t seen a situation where an officer shot a speeding vehicle from a helicopter.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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