EDINBURG — Residents of a quiet neighborhood near Freddy Gonzalez Drive and McColl Road were awakened here to several loud bangs in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Cautiously, each person who heard the commotion stepped outside the safety of their homes and were greeted with the chaotic scene of a high-profile attempted murder investigation — police units and an ambulance blocking off the street in the 3300 block of Zoe Avenue.
The activity stemmed from a shooting there early Sunday morning that ended in the arrest of an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent in Weslaco. The agent is accused of the attempted murder of his girlfriend in the Edinburg neighborhood.
Responding to an inquiry about the arrest, CBP issued a statement just after midday Sunday confirming that an agent assigned to the Rio Grande Valley sector was arrested “following an alleged domestic dispute involving a firearm.”
A source with knowledge of the case said the shooting occurred at an Edinburg residence around 3 a.m. Sunday, and that the suspect fled in a vehicle to Weslaco, where he was later apprehended.
Weslaco police said the suspect was detained Sunday upon their response to a call for service for a vehicle stationed on the side of the road near Nora Street and Texas Boulevard. Weslaco police deferred further comment to the Edinburg Police Department — the lead agency investigating the case. An Edinburg police spokesman declined to provide information about the attempted murder investigation, further noting the agency would hold a news conference Monday morning.
Edinburg Municipal Judge Terry Palacios said an arrest warrant was issued for the suspect, who had not been arraigned as of Sunday morning.
One neighbor who lives across from the scene of the shooting, and who declined to provide his name, encountered a woman parked outside his home who told him she had been shot, and she knew who had done it.
The first thing this neighbor witnessed was a man driving away from the area in a Nissan Altima. Carrying at least two registered firearms with him, the neighbor approached the vehicle and noticed the back windows of the woman’s SUV had been shot out.
“He took off and she came strolling down, so I ran up to her car,” the man said. “I was just asking her if she was alright. ‘Are you OK? Did you hear anything?’ She was answering slowly. I asked her, ‘Do you know who it was?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I was shot.’”
After speaking with police investigators, the neighbor was told the incident may have originated in Mission and ended with a shooting in his neighborhood.
The neighbor, who’s in his early 30s, said he wanted people to know that Edinburg was safe and that the incident actually began elsewhere.
Art Flores, public information officer for the Mission Police Department, confirmed a call came in early Sunday morning for a report of a possible burglary at a residence in the 2500 block of Harmony Court in Mission.
When officers arrived the woman they were searching for had left the area, Flores said.
After police arrived at the scene of the shooting in Edinburg, several neighbors who spoke with The Monitor said a 14-month old girl, reportedly the daughter of the suspect and shooting victim, was found inside the woman’s residence, uninjured.
Neighbors described the woman as being in her mid-30s who had only recently moved into the neighborhood. She is believed to be a high school teacher in the Edinburg school district and a mother to three kids, two from a previous relationship.
Ismael Rodriguez, 66, of Edinburg, who also lives across the street from the scene, said the victim may have been shot several times in the neck and back, according to a conversation with her sibling.
“I talked to the (victim’s) sister this morning and she said that (the suspect) shot her twice in the back, one in the neck, and then he went and shot her while she was climbing into (her) vehicle,” Rodriguez said. “She said (the victim is) stable and that she was shot eight times.”
Rodriguez, who is also a registered gun owner, said he came outside carrying a 9mm pistol and .22 caliber handgun after his daughter told him about the loud bangs. He said he was prepared to protect his family.
In the few months she’s lived across from his home, Rodriguez said he’s heard loud arguments coming from the victim’s residence, and told the woman he hoped things weren’t getting physical between the couple.
Rodriguez, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 20 years, said he and his family are still in shock following Sunday morning’s events.
Another set of neighbors, a wife and husband who live at the end of the street and agreed to speak to The Monitor under the condition of anonymity, spoke of the moment police broke into the victim’s residence and pulled the girl to safety.
“… They got a shield, and we saw that they broke down the door, and they got the baby and they put the baby in one of the (police) units, and then an ambulance came and they put the baby in the ambulance,” the woman said.
She described the neighborhood as “real quiet.”
In the statement, CBP said it “does not tolerate actions by any employee that would tarnish the reputation of our agency. CBP is fully cooperating with the Edinburg Police Department investigation.”
“CBP stresses integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelmingly majority of CBP employees, agents and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” the CBP statement read.
Monitor staff writers Cristina M. Garcia, J. Edward Moreno, Molly Smith and photojournalist Delcia Lopez contributed to this report.