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Rangers to Seek Indictment
Associated Press June 21, 1997

By Eduardo Montes
Associated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers will reportedly seek a murder indictment against the Marine suspected of fatally shooting a teen-ager along the Texas-Mexico border last month.

Capt. Barry Caver told the El Paso Times that the Rangers will seek the charge against Marine Cpl. Clemente Banuelos, who allegedly shot and killed 18-year-old Ezequiel Hernandez.

Lesser charges will be sought against the other three Marines who were on patrol with Banuelos, Caver said in Saturday editions of the newspaper.

The development follows increasing questions by investigators over the military's claim of self-defense in the May 20 incident.

Texas Ranger David Duncan, the chief investigator, said Friday that the Marines waited 22 minutes before giving first aid or calling for help. He also said 20 minutes elapsed between the time Hernandez allegedly shot at a military surveillance team and the time a Marine returned fire.

Military officials say a member of the four-man team shot Hernandez after the teen had fired twice at the Marines, who were watching a suspected drug route 200 miles southeast of El Paso at the request of the Border Patrol.

The military maintains the 18-year-old Hernandez had raised his .22-caliber rifle for a third shot when the Marine opened fire.

Duncan said he didn't know if the delay in medical aid might have played a role in Hernandez's death. The Rangers have not yet received a copy of the autopsy report.

An ambulance was finally requested when the Border Patrol and a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene.

Investigators have obtained subpoenas for three officials with Joint Task Force Six, a Fort Bliss-based military agency that coordinates anti-drug missions involving the armed forces and civilian authorities.

Agency spokeswoman Maureen Bossch said officials are ready to cooperate but have not received subpoenas.

On Friday, a month after the shooting, demonstrators in Washington and El Paso protested military patrols on the border.

A group of people stood across the street from the Immigration and Naturalization Service headquarters in Washington holding a banner that read: ``Stop the violence at the border. Remember Ezequiel Hernandez.''

``The military has a role to play, but it's not to police U.S. citizens,'' said the Rev. Bill Morton at a protest outside the El Paso federal building.

The U.S. House approved a measure that could station up to 10,000 U.S. troops along the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Also Friday, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Mexico's Foreign Secretary Angel Gurria announced a campaign aimed at making the international border safer.

The Tijuana-San Diego border is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for Border Patrol agents, who have been fired upon in recent weeks by gunmen on the Mexico side of the international line.

The committee on public safety will focus on cross-border violence in the San Diego-Tijuana region, exchanging information and evidence in investigations.

This article copyright 1997 the Associated Press and is reproduced for non-profit educational purposes only.

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