Sheriff denies “cross border violence” in Candelaria shooting
By CAMERON DODD
PRESIDIO COUNTY — A late-night shootout with an unknown attacker or attackers, potentially from Mexico; an attempted RV theft or kidnapping; two men wounded as result of lax border security. This is part of a dramatic narrative circulating on the internet about a Friday night incident that left two men with severe gunshot wounds.
According to local law enforcement, however, the story is not supported by evidence at this point.
The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating a Friday night shooting incident on a ranch near Candelaria in a remote part of the county that resulted in two men being airlifted for treatment of gunshot wounds.
But a press release circulating since Sunday on the internet tells an account of the shooting that the sheriff’s office says isn’t supported by evidence.
The sheriff’s office responded to a call around 9:30pm Friday, January 7 from the Circle Dug Ranch. The 911 caller told the sheriff’s office dispatcher two members of a hunting party were shot during an exchange of gunfire between the hunters and multiple unidentified people, according to Presidio County Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Nuñez.
Nuñez was the first to arrive on the scene and was shortly thereafter backed up by officers from the sheriff’s office as well as the Presidio Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Two men, New Mexico hunting guide Walker Daugherty, 26, and Edwin Roberts, 59, a client of Daugherty’s, were airlifted to El Paso for treatment for severe injuries from gunshot wounds.
Formerly known as the Chambers Ranch, the Circle Dug Ranch is about 10 miles northwest of Candelaria and hosts hunting for aoudad, javelina, mule deer and other wildlife. Daugherty and Roberts, along with several others, were staying and hunting on the ranch.
As of Monday, Daugherty and Roberts were still in an El Paso hospital receiving treatment, CBS7 reported.
A press release appeared Sunday purporting to detail the incident from the perspective of those on the ranch. The shooting started after what appeared to be an attempted theft of a recreational vehicle (RV) parked near the hunting lodge and potentially an attempt at kidnapping or killing the hunters sleeping in the vehicle, according to the press release. In this telling, Daugherty was wounded while attempting to stop assailants from shooting at and stealing the RV and the “assailants got away and likely returned to Mexico.”
The press release has been shared around social media and several blogs, including Thewesterner.blogspot.com where the incident is described as a “border ambush.” Another blog claims the attack was launched by “Mexican kidnappers.”
The story is similar to what the 911 caller told dispatch and what witnesses told law enforcement during preliminary interviews, Deputy Nuñez said.
But according to the investigation by the sheriff’s office and Border Patrol, there is no evidence to support the account.
“We’re still investigating and waiting for ballistics results from [Texas Department of Public Safety] lab in El Paso,” Nuñez said. “Right now, there is no evidence to suggest there was any ‘cross-border violence’ situation there.”
The sheriff’s office was supported in their investigation by about 30 U.S. Border Patrol agents from Air and Marine units from El Paso and agents with human and drug detecting dogs.
“[Border Patrol has] expert trackers who say there were no signs at the time of any individuals on the ranch other than those staying there,” Nuñez said.
The account of the Friday night incident in the press release came from a phone call with Daugherty’s family, Laura Bryant, author of the press release, told the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International. Bryant said she is a friend of Daugherty’s who lives in New Mexico and was not present for the incident but spoke with those who were there.
“It’s clearly speculation,” Bryant said of the claim that the unidentified shooters had crossed the border from Mexico illegally. Bryant was reluctant to say more about the incident.
“The family has been advised by lawyers not to say any more about what happened,” Bryant said, adding, “There was no attempt to apprehend the attackers.”
With investigators still waiting for test results – including ballistics – any theory from law enforcement officers about what happened Friday would be just speculation, Nuñez said. Still, the sheriff’s office is adamant there is currently no reason to suspect an attack stemming from across the Rio Grande.
“[Border Patrol] are very confident there was no sign of any pedestrian traffic walking in or leaving the ranch house perimeter,” he said. “This is why we are secure in saying there was not a ‘cross border violence’ incident.”
Friends of Walker Daugherty have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his medical costs. For more information, visit www.gofundme.com/help-for-walker-daugherty.
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