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Thursday, September 28, 2006 

It Was Bound to Happen, National Guardsmen Shoot Up a Family Gathering

It was bound to happen; the chickens will come home to roost. Recently three National Guardsmen shoot up a family carne asada (barbeque) while on a "beer-fueled" joy ride near Eagle Pass, TX.

The last time the US stationed troops along the Rio Grande, a Marine shot and killed a Texas teenager tending to his goats at his home. Back in 1997 when a US military unit called Joint Task Force Six or JTF 6 was asked to assist the Border Patrol in patrolling the borders for drug traffickers, a Marine shot and killed a Texas teenager within sight of his home. Two things resulted from that day - Esequiel Hernandez Jr. became the first civilian killed by US troops since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970 and Cpl. Clemente Manuel Banuelos became the first US Marine to kill a fellow citizen on US soil.
On May 20, 1997, Esequiel Hernandez Jr. became the first civilian killed by U.S. troops since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970. His death led to a temporary suspension of military patrols near the U.S.-Mexican border. And in August, the government paid his family $1.9 million to settle a wrongful death claim.

Cpl. Clemente Manuel Banuelos became the first U.S. Marine to kill a fellow citizen on U.S. soil. Four investigations and three grand juries probed the May 1997 shooting. Each concluded that because Banuelos followed orders, he was innocent of criminal wrongdoing. Those who issued the orders were never tried.
Back in July when Narco News reported on this story based on new information from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents provided to Narco News by professor Keith Yearman, Narco News forewarned:
Marines are taught to hunt down the enemy and eliminate him. That's what you get when you put soldiers on the border. They are trained to kill.

That fact is something to keep in mind as President Bush's directive of dispatching [some 6,000] National Guard troops to the border is carried out over the next several months.

...If you want to destroy the border, then send in the Marines.
It looks like the chickens are half way home and about to roost. Recently, the Houston Chronicle reported that three National Guardsmen were arrested on Sept 6 on felony deadly-conduct charges for shooting up a family carne asada.

Apparently the three men were bored and used their off-duty time joyriding drunk and shooting up an innocent family outdoor gathering.
... the two-year military mission known as "Operation Jump Start" wasn't supposed to be such a tedious assignment that highly trained troops would bide their off-duty time with beer-fueled joyriding and reckless gunfire.

Three soldiers from North Texas, at least one of whom had served in Iraq, were arrested the evening of Sept. 6 on felony deadly-conduct charges after several shots were fired from their private vehicle as it passed a family cookout in a modest Maverick County subdivision, officials said.

"Apparently the family was having a carne asada outside and they saw this vehicle drive by, stop in front of the residence and shoot several times. Then they took off and made a U-turn and came back and did the same thing," Herrera said.
The young men were later found at a convenience store with "two cases of beer — minus three brews" in the car. The Chronicle reports, according Maverick County Sheriff Tomas S. Herrera, "no one was targeted or injured by the gunshots and no property damage was reported" and that "none of the soldiers appeared intoxicated upon arrest." If the soldiers were not drunk, then they must have known what they were doing.

As the sheriff's department completes their investigation, the three men have been reassigned to Camp Mabry and the beat goes on. The incident is being called an "isolated incident" and a case of the "boredoms."

Although County Judge Jose A. Aranda Jr. does agree it was an "isolated incident", he does question incident as to why they would do it considering that the "community" had "welcomed the troops" with open arms. Considering Herrera said that the young men were not "intoxicated upon arrest," Aranda's has the right to be puzzled. However, Aranda provides one possible explanation for this behavior. Life as a National Guardsmen holed up in a small border town is not all what is cracked up to be.
Aranda ... sympathizes with soldiers assigned here because entertainment options are limited to restaurants, bars, the Kickapoo casino and the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras, he said.

"You send in a group of people who are actually trained to do something else, you put them behind a desk, you've got them stashed away in a hotel. They're bored and they were out having fun," Aranda said.

Renewing his claim that troops wouldn't fully appreciate border culture, Aranda said the soldiers' random gunfire in the Deer Run subdivision showed insensitivity.

"They don't understand how our neighborhoods are, and you're not supposed to be out there shooting on the roads. That can lead to something," Aranda said.
To call this a case of the "boredoms" and labeling it "insensitivity" is nothing more but playing down to the seriousness of the incident. The three men were not drunk and they knew exactly what they were doing because they came back and did it again. To say that life at the border can make people mad is a load of bull, not were these men are from, they too are come from small TX towns. Here are the regional breakdowns of Texas. Two of the men are from McKinney, TX and the other one is from Saint Jo, TX, which are located in North Central Texas area. Eagle Pass has a population of 22,413 so the is not that much smaller than McKinny with a population of 35,782 and it is definitely ten times bigger than Saint Jo with population of 977. The stir-crazy argument many work for others, but it doesn't apply to these men.

I guess these three men decided to make an additional option to their entertainment repertoire but this time they were caught. Just like the case of Esequiel Hernandez Jr., the military will investigate, reassign, and hope everything is forgotten. Militarizing the border was wrong back then and it is wrong now. How long can we let this continue? Until innocent people and children are killed, like in Iraq.

Update - It seems that the three men had a bit of the "we are above the law" attitude with the local authorities. MySA.com reports, Ruben Cano, the sheriff's chief deputy said that all three of them took turns shooting out the car window when they decided to go out for a joy ride in the evening in a neighborhood north of Eagle Pass. Deputies responded after they had received complaints from the residents of that subdivision and when the authorities confronted the men, they were "uncooperative."
"They gave us a bunch of yahoo military talk. We advised them we weren't playing with them. Once they had spent a night here (in jail), they changed their attitude," he said.
As I stated before, the military will threat this case, just like they did with Esequiel Hernandez Jr.

National Guard Capt. Dick Jinks, the public affairs officer for "Operation Jump Start," statement to the press is a bit troubling.
"We don't know exactly what happened. We know what the sheriff's office is telling us," he said. "Of course, once the civilian law enforcement is done with their investigation, we'll take the matter under consideration. Our judge advocate general is involved." emphasis added by me
Given the offenses occuring in Iraq and the way military has been handling those incidents, Jinks' statement sounded as if he is dismissing the creditablity of the Eagle Pass' local authority and the city's residents. One does have to wonder if the National Guard is waiting for this to blow over, hoping people will forget about it and reassign them to another border town in the next state over where the residents haven't heard this incident, yet. If this is true, the it has failed to meet it's goal as an institution to protect the safety of its citizens it's guarding. It will be another blow to the military if their aim is to win the hearts and minds of the American public.

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