This article was originally published by Matt Agorist at The Free Thought Project.
In an alarming and heartbreaking incident, an esteemed member of the Tohono O’odham community was brutally shot down by Border Patrol agents last week. The tragic story exemplifies the dangerous reality for many Americans living near the border, where instead of providing safety, law enforcement becomes a lethal threat.
Raymond Mattia, a respected and deeply loved man of the Tohono O’odham tribe, fell victim to this predicament when he was killed by the very forces he called upon for assistance. According to his anguished family, Mattia dialed Border Patrol for aid when he observed a group of illegal immigrants trespassing on his property in the village known as Menegers Dam, only a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of the assistance he sought, Mattia was met with an onslaught of gunfire that ended his life.
In their grief and shock, the family now seeks answers. How could a situation that required assistance end so tragically? Why did a simple call for help result in a respected community member lying lifeless just two feet from his own front door?
“I keep hearing the gunshots and I can’t get over it… It’s very sad just to know who they were shooting at, you know,” one anonymous family member shared, a poignant representation of their shared horror and confusion.
His family reported that the Border Patrol unleashed an estimated 38 shots at Mattia, a response that many, including his family, perceive as extremely excessive. Questions loom: what led to such an extreme reaction from the Border Patrol, and why were there so many officers firing at one solitary man who posed no obvious threat?
The community is united in their outrage, demanding accountability for the lethal actions of the Border Patrol agents. The officers were not just shooting at a man who called them for help, they were firing at an artist, a traditional singer, a hunter, and above all, a peaceful man who cared deeply for his family and community.
Ophelia Rivas, a lifelong friend of Mattia, spoke to KVOA about his peaceful character. She emphasized, “He was not an aggressive kind of man, he was not violent.” She highlighted his various roles within their community, reminding us of the profound loss suffered by his loved ones and the community as a whole.
The aggressive and unchecked behavior of the Border Patrol agents on Tohono O’odham land shows a grave disrespect for the people and the land. A man who sought help from those sworn to protect him instead became a victim of their aggression. As the FBI, Tohono O’odham police, and Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigate the fatal shooting, the community waits, haunted by the execution of one of their own, seeking answers, justice, and ultimately, a safer future for their people.