Javier Vega was innocently fishing with his family in Willacy County, Texas when two individuals approached them in a robbery attempt. The suspects opened fire on the Vega family after they noticed Vega’s gun holstered on his hip. The 30-year old Vega, who was off-duty from his job as a Border Patrol Agent, and his father proceeded to fire back. Vega was shot in the chest and later died.
The Blaze reports that he two suspects, 30-year old Gustavo Tijerina and 40-year old Ismael Hernandez, have been identified as illegal aliens from Mexico who were living in Texas. While they fled the scene, they were later apprehended, booked into jail on Monday and charged on Tuesday. They will likely face capital murder charges, one count of attempted murder, and four counts of aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.
Police have stated that it does not appear that the suspects knew Vega was a Border Patrol agent. Both Tijerina and Hernandez have confessed.
Fishermen have increasingly found themselves the target of thieves in both Willacy County and nearby Cameron County. There have been numerous reports of fishermen being robbed of cash, jewelry and their cars. Authorities believe these two men may be behind a number of previous robberies as well.
Vega was reportedly fishing with his two young children, a friend, and his parents. While he risked his life on a daily basis protecting our border, he died a hero’s death trying to protect his family.
His father was shot in the hip during the gun exchange and, after Vega went down from a gunshot wound to the chest, he said to his father before he died, “Keep shooting, dad. “ His mother picked up an AR-15 and fulfilled her son’s instructions to keep shooting.
The Valley Morning Star posted a message left by Vega’s sister-in-law, Natalie Gardere Vega, on her Facebook page. She wrote, “I will never understand why we have such heartless people in this world! An amazing man was taking (sic) from his family way to soon! Please keep my family in y’all’s prayers! Especially his 3 boys and wife! And my father in law who is still in the hospital! We love you and will forever miss you Javier Vega Jr.!!!”