Re: Federale's blog post Yes, Mr. President, Border Guards Can Shoot Rock Throwers In Self-Defence
From: A Former Border Patrolman [Email him]
A quick thought on Federale's article on the Border Patrol being allowed to shoot rock throwers. When I was down on the Southern Border going up and down the Rio Grande near the Hidalgo bridge I got more than a few rocks thrown at me. There was one bend in the river with a cliff on the Mexican side allowing them to throw downward as we came by, usually with the outboard revving on full plane. Because we would put our boat in at a ramp underneath the bridge and then head up river past them, they knew we would eventually have to come down river to pull the boats out of the water because that's where our trailers were. Also, they would often hear the outboard coming and set up for us.
I can remember one time coming down the river and we had passed the cliff, we should have been in a safe area. I saw a guy coming down out of the brush to the river. He was swinging a cloth with a rock in it. It was sort of like what I had seen in depictions of David vs. Goliath from my childhood bible days.
He swung it around a couple of times and then released. The rock was well ahead of us and I thought he had totally miscalculated. Then, like a pitcher’s curve ball or a boomerang, the spin on the rock caused it to arc back towards us. Then next thing I knew, it came right in front of us and smashed into the cowling on the outboard. It hit with such force it sounded like a gun shot. I was amazed it didn't crack the cowling. We came off of plane and went back to find where the rock thrower had gone to. My partner had pulled out his M-4 and fully intended to shoot him if he tried it again. The thrower had disappeared.
I was impressed with his skill. I had tried using a rag around a rock to throw it when I was a kid and never had any luck. It must have taken a lot of practice to get that down right.
I was told in the old days of the Patrol, the Agents would load up shotguns with rock salt in them. The salt doesn't have the ballistics of lead and cannot penetrate as far so it's not as deadly. I'm told that it hurts like hell. Family lore has it that my Grandfather got shot with one by a farmer when my Grandfather was young and stealing vegetables out of the field.
I can remember another time when we were drifting down river at night. We were trying to keep an eye out for anyone swimming or using an innertube to cross. It had been a quiet night when I heard splashing in the water. I thought some fish were jumping nearby. My partner said "They're throwing rocks at us!!" While he fired up the engine, I took out a spotlight and lit up the Mexican side. The beam helped to blind them like when you get a flashlight shone in your eyes in the dark. As I recall, there were about 10 teenagers on the Mexican side who had lined up to throw rocks at us. Fortunately, they all missed.
I tried to get a Pepperball gun to shoot back at rock throwers. Instead, my gutless supervisor found out what I was trying to do and had us pulled out of the area for a while. We did get back to patrolling there eventually. (In some sectors, they authorized Pepperball guns for self-defense in 2004, leading to bitter complaints from George P. Bush, son of Jeb and Columba, nephew of the then-President, and currently an elected official in Texas.)
After I had left the southern border, our boat patrol got rocked so many times (and shot at) that they pulled the boat patrol out of that stretch of water. This emboldened the rock throwers, so, they came across and rocked our horse patrol. Rather than demonstrate any spine, they pulled the horse patrol out of the area.
The rock throwers were even more emboldened now, so, they came across and started rocking the vehicles. It culminated in an incident where a couple of our Agents got out on foot and got rocked. They shot back and the rock throwers ran to the river and swam back to Mexico. The Reynosa newspaper reported that these teenagers were innocently swimming in the river when the Border Patrol opened fire on them wounding one in the leg.
As I recall, the Agent who actually shot the kid in the leg had taken a rock to the forehead and had blood dripping down his forehead into his eyes when he was trying to shoot.
James Fulford writes: The rock-thrower with the cloth was definitely a lethal force attack. Aside from Goliath, a lot of people in the ancient world used slings as extremely deadly weapons, as you can see on Wikipedia. Slings have been used as weapons by Palestinian and Kenyan rioters against modern armies—who shot back with rifles.