Texas has roughly 5,000 National Guard troops working a state-sponsored mission along the U.S. border with Mexico to work with state police to deter illegal activity between ports-of-entry.

Texas has roughly 5,000 National Guard troops working a state-sponsored mission along the U.S. border with Mexico to work with state police to deter illegal activity between ports-of-entry. (Texas Military Department)

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas National Guard soldier deployed in El Paso fired a weapon Saturday night and wounded a man on the bank of the Rio Grande in Mexico, according to a human rights advocacy group.

The man was shot in the leg and not attempting to cross the border, according to the Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy group based in El Paso. He was “practicing sports near the border while a group of migrants was crossing the border,” the group said in a statement.

The Texas Military Department confirmed Monday that a service member discharged a weapon in a “border-related incident” Saturday. However, state military officials did not say whether the gunfire crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. The statement offered few details but included the incident is under investigation.

An official at the Pentagon speaking on the condition of anonymity referred all questions to the Texas National Guard and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott because the service member was part of a state-sponsored mission and not part of a separate federal mission at the border.

"We are deeply appalled by the actions of the Texas National Guard, which under Gov. Abbott's leadership has continued to usurp federal authority and unleash unnecessary chaos at our southern border,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

The shooting occurred at about 8:50 p.m. near the Bridge of the Americas, which connects El Paso to Juarez in Mexico, according to El Paso Matters, a news organization.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official also declined to answer questions about the incident. The El Paso Police Department did not immediately respond to questions about the shooting.

Ericka Miller, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, confirmed Monday that its state police force — the Texas Rangers — is leading the investigation.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott first deployed troops to the border more than two years ago on a state mission dubbed Operation Lone Star. Troops assigned to the mission work with state police to stop illegal activity along the U.S. border with Mexico between legal ports of entry.

At its peak in late 2021, about 10,000 troops served on Operation Lone Star. Information provided to the Texas Legislature in March showed about 5,000 troops were still assigned to the mission.

In January, a Texas National Guard member on Operation Lone Star shot and wounded a foreign national. The soldier was assisting a Border Patrol agent with a search dog when they encountered a group of migrants in an abandoned house in Mission, a small town on the Texas border. The soldier fired his service weapon and wounded a man who had illegally crossed into the United States. The investigation was closed in June and the soldier was not charged with any crimes.

Operation Lone Star is separate from a federal deployment of roughly 2,300 National Guard troops to the border to assist Border Patrol agents with non-law enforcement activities.

author picture
Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now