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Pregnant woman kills intruder who kicked in door

Originally ran here as:
"Pregnant rancher kills illegal immigrant intruder"
by Associated Press
HoustonChronicle.com
January 18, 2002

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- An undocumented immigrant looking for something to eat in a stranger's kitchen was shot and killed by a pregnant woman in her Edwards County ranch home, border officials said.

Police believe Gonzalo Lopez Castaneda, 32, and two other immigrants, were looking for food in the woman's kitchen Tuesday when he was shot once in the chest with a hunting rifle.

Lopez had worked on an area ranch and was returning there after going to Mexico for Christmas, Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger said.

The ranch where he was killed is about 50 miles from the Texas-Mexico border.

The case will be turned over to the district attorney.

The sheriff and Mexican consular officials said the woman woke from a nap to find two men trying to cut through a window screen and a third, Lopez, standing in her kitchen after apparently kicking in the back door.

San Antonio Attorney J.A. Garcia, who represents the Mexican Consulate, said the two other immigrants told him they overhead Lopez and the woman seconds before the shooting.

"They could hear Lopez telling the woman they were hungry as she became hysterical," Garcia told the San Antonio Express-News for today's editions. "They heard the lone shot and both ran.

"It is an unfortunate incident where another undocumented alien is looking for food and made the mistake of actually breaking into a home."

The two other men were being held as material witnesses in Edwards County Jail.

The shooting, which happened about 80 miles northeast of Del Rio, near Rocksprings, marks the latest casualty in the region plagued by violence involving immigrants and Texans trying to protect their property.

"We are aware there is tension out there," said Dennis Smith, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Del Rio Sector. "We tell (property owners) not to take the law into their own hands."

At least eight times in the past three years, area residents have shot immigrants. Two have died.


Originally ran here as:
Pregnant rancher slays intruder
by Dane Schiller, San Antonio Express-News
My San Antonio.com
January 18, 2002

Pregnant rancher slays intruder

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- A pregnant woman home alone with her toddler fatally shot an undocumented immigrant who apparently was searching for food when he broke into her ranch house, officials said.

The shooting, which occurred Tuesday about 80 miles northeast of Del Rio near Rocksprings, marks the latest casualty in a region plagued by violence involving Texans protecting their property and immigrants trying to get into the country.

"We are aware there is tension out there," said Dennis Smith, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Del Rio Sector. "We tell (property owners) not to take the law into their own hands."

Smith would not comment on the latest shooting, but he acknowledged that life on remote ranches "does get scary."

At least eight times since January 1999, area residents have shot immigrants. Two immigrants have died.

The woman, alone with her 2-year-old son, used a hunting rifle to shoot Gonzalo López Castañeda, 32, once in the chest.

López, who died at the scene, had worked on an area ranch and was returning there after going to Mexico for Christmas, Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger said.

The ranch where he was killed is about 50 miles from the Texas-Mexico border.

"She is seven months pregnant and they are afraid she could miscarry," Letsinger said of the woman, who left the area to be with her family.

"It is not every day you shoot someone and kill him," he said. "It is pretty obvious she was in fear."

The case will be turned over to the district attorney, but it appears to be a justified shooting, Letsinger said.

Letsinger said he doubts López or two other immigrants taken into custody at the ranch knew the woman was home.

They probably wanted something to eat or to use the phone to call for a ride, he said.

The sheriff and Mexican consular officials said the woman woke from a nap to find two men trying to cut through a window screen and a third, López, standing in her kitchen after apparently kicking in the back door.

San Antonio Attorney J.A. García, who represents the Mexican Consulate, said the two other men told him they overheard López and the woman seconds before the shooting.

They could hear López telling the woman they were hungry as she became hysterical," he said. "They heard the lone shot and both ran.

"It is an unfortunate incident where another undocumented alien is looking for food and made the mistake of actually breaking into a home," he said.

The two other men were being held as material witnesses in Edwards County Jail.

The Border Patrol's Del Rio Sector, which made 104,875 arrests last year, is trying to calm emotions, Smith said.

The patrol is pushing ahead with its ranch liaison program in which agents meet with property owners to hear concerns and exchange ideas about how to tackle undocumented immigration.

"There are tens of thousands of undocumented aliens (who) come through this area each year," the sheriff said. "Every house or piece of property that is unattended gets broken into  trailers, hunting camps and houses."


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