EL PASO — The cause of death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent killed nearly three months ago in Texas has not been “conclusively determined,” but evidence does not point to a scuffle or attack taking place, FBI officials said Wednesday.
Agent Rogelio Martinez and another agent, whom court documents identified as Stephen Garland, suffered serious injuries while on duty shortly before midnight on Nov. 18 near Interstate 10 east of Van Horn, which is about 120 miles east of El Paso.
President Trump and others used the suggestion of an attack to promote the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Martinez and Garland, who were found at the bottom of culvert, were taken to an El Paso hospital. Martinez died the following day, and Garland was later released from the hospital.
“To date, none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017,” FBI El Paso Division officials said in a statement.
FBI officials said that among those interviewed were federal, state and local first responders who were at the scene, as well as more than 55 medical personnel who treated and provided care to the agents. The FBI also interviewed six employees from Union Pacific Railroad, which had locomotives in the area on Nov. 18 and 19.
“To date, this investigation has not conclusively determined how Agent Martinez and his partner ended up at the bottom of the culvert and no suspects have been linked to this incident,” the FBI said in the statement.
The FBI had been investigating whether the agents were ambushed or attacked, or whether their injuries resulted from an accident or criminal activity, the statement continued.
Days after the incident, FBI El Paso Division officials said they were investigating the case as a "potential assault on federal officers."
In its statement Wednesday, the FBI for the first time released some details of a telephone conversation between Garland, who is identified as the "second agent," and a U.S. Border Patrol dispatcher.
Garland was disoriented and unsure of his location and "made a statement to the effect of 'We ran into a culvert,' 'I ran into a culvert,' or 'I think I ran into a culvert,' ” according to the statement.
The dispatcher then told Garland to go to his vehicle and activate his emergency lights so that first responders could find him and Martinez, according to the FBI statement. In a Border Patrol log, the dispatcher, whose name was not released, wrote “(He) thinks they (both agents) ran into a culvert.”
FBI officials in the statement said they had identified two persons of interest, but that forensic analysis determined that neither had anything to do with Martinez's death or Garland's injuries.
An autopsy report released Tuesday by the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office stated that Martinez died of blunt injuries of the head, but that the manner of death has been undetermined.
Border Patrol union officials have adamantly said the agents were ambushed and attacked.
Neither national nor local union officials could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also have said the two were attacked, with Trump using the incident to renew his call for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo told the Dallas Morning News that the men may have been accidentally sideswiped by semitrailer as the agents stood along I-10.
There has also been widespread speculation that the agents may have accidentally fallen in the desert during their night shift, the Associated Press has reported.
Contributing: The Associated Press; follow Aaron Martinez on Twitter: @AMartinez31