McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A member of the Texas Army National Guard who was assigned to Operation Lone Star died Monday in the South Texas town of Brackettville, the Texas Military Department announced.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, adjutant general for the Texas Military Department said in a statement. “We are focused on supporting the soldier’s family and are providing all available resources.”
The soldier’s name was being withheld for 24 hours pending notification of family. He was killed in a “non-mission related incident,” but officials would not give further details.
The Army Times reported that the soldier died in an “accidental shooting.”
“The soldier assigned to secure the U.S.-Mexico border was killed by a fellow soldier in an accidental shooting with his personal weapon Monday,” the Army Times reported, citing documents they obtained.
“The soldier was sitting in the front seat of a parked car at Fort Clark Springs near Brackettville, Texas, where the unit was doing swim training, when he handed his handgun to a soldier sitting behind him. The gun fired as the second soldier was taking it from his hands, sending a round through the seat and into the first soldier’s back, the documents stated,” according to the Army Times.
The soldier was injured in Brackettville, which is a tiny town of less than 2,000 in Kinney County, about 30 miles east of the border city of Del Rio, Texas.
Since September, that region has had thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, try to cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said the Texas Rangers were investigating the death.
“Our hearts are heavy at the news of the tragic death of a Texas Guardsman stationed at the border as part of Operation Lone Star. We grieve for the soldier who died and lift their family and loved ones up in prayer,” Abbott said in a statement.
“The Texas National Guard plays an important role in our efforts to keep communities safe and we are grateful for their courage and commitment. The Texas Rangers will conduct a thorough investigation into this tragedy and the Texas Military Department is taking action to ensure such loss of life never happens again,” Abbott said.
Abbott began Operation Lone Star in March to help augment federal forces assigned to the Texas-Mexico border. He claims the Biden administration is not doing enough to protect the borderlands.
During a Jan. 27 visit to Edinburg, Texas, Abbott said “the Biden administration’s abandonment of its obligation to secure the border,” violates federal responsibilities.
Julian Castro, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination and served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, decried the soldier’s death on Tuesday in a Tweet, and he blamed Abbott.
“Five soldiers in the Texas National Guard have now died under Greg Abbott’s ‘Operation Lone Star’ sham deployment. At least four have died by suicide. He is responsible for this disaster. It must end,” Castro wrote.
The Army Times reports this is the sixth death of a National Guard member assigned to Operation Lone Star. All of the deaths have been related to personal weapons and four were suicides, according to the Times.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at email@example.com.