RAYMONDVILLE — Two Mexican nationals are in custody after authorities said they confessed to killing an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent and wounding the agent’s father.
Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr., 36, of Kingsville, died of a gunshot wound to the chest and Javier Vega Sr., of La Feria, was hospitalized with a shot to his hip.
Spence said authorities arrested Gustavo Tijernia, 30, of La Villa, and Ismael Hernandez, 40, of Weslaco, both Mexican nationals from Matamoros, in connection with the Sunday evening shooting.
The men face charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder, four counts of aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence, Spence said.
The Vegas were shot while gar fishing with the agent’s wife, his mother, two children and another child in the Santa Monica area off FM 1420 about 3 ½ miles east of the north levee, Spence said, adding the location was “their favorite spot.”
The suspects confessed to committing other robberies but investigators did not know if they were behind a series of robberies around Cameron County fishing spots, Spence said.
Natalie Vega, the agent’s sister-in-law, said Javier Vega Jr. is survived by three sons ages 9, 13 and 18.
“The boys are taking it pretty hard,” she said Monday outside the family home in La Feria. “We’re doing as well as we could be.”
She said the agent was shot at “point-blank” range.
“I don’t think the agent got (the gun) out,” she said. But her father-in-law returned gunfire as the suspects fled in a vehicle described as a maroon SUV.
Natalie Vega said her father-in-law was expected to be released Monday from Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.
Marie Vega, the agent’s mother, called authorities to report the shooting of her son and husband at about 8 p.m. Sunday, Spence said.
Two suspects pulled up in a vehicle to approach the agent and his father before gunfire followed a “discussion,” Spence said. The agent’s father returned gunfire, disabling the suspects’ vehicle.
(Valley Star reporter Emma Perez-Treviño contributed to this report)