The family of the man reportedly killed on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake on the Texas border has been publicly pleading that American officials be allowed to cross over the border to search for his body. But the Sheriff leading the investigation on the U.S. side told Today this morning that Mexican officials invited his office to participate in the search last night, but that he declined the offer “because it’s dangerous.” (The man’s wife, Tiffany Hartley, appeared in the same segment)
Hartley has maintained that her husband was shot in the head by “lake pirates” while the couple were on jet skis. His body hasn’t been recovered, and she says she was able to escape on her own jet ski.
When host Meredith Vieira asked if he thought Mexican authorities were hindering the investigation, the border hawkish Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said, “Well, it’s a custom, I guess you could say, to some extent, to hinder the investigation.” But he said he had spoken to a Mexican state police official last night, who told him that Mexican authorities had been out on Friday and Saturday searching for David Hartley’s body. Gonzalez said the same official told him that “today, starting around 10 o’clock this morning they’re going to have several boats, helicopters, ski jets, looking in that area all over again. And they’re not going to stop until they find something, or until all efforts have been exhausted.” Gonzalez also said a “very high ranking” official from the attorney general’s office in Mexico would be flying to area today by noon today.
Then Vieira asked the sheriff if he’d prefer for his staff to be included in the search. Gonzalez said that, actually, he’d turned down an offer to cross the border to assist.
“Well, it’s not necessarily that we’re being left out,” Gonzalez said. “We have been invited to participate, just last night, to actually go to Mexico and participate. We have chosen, however, to remain here, simply because it’s dangerous. It’s not that we don’t want to go, or we cannot protect ourselves, I’m sure that we can get the assets to go to Mexico. But, I think if we go out there and we end up getting into a gun battle, it’s definitely an international incident that would have some repercussions.”
In the same appearance, Gonzalez also stood by Tiffany Hartley’s account, and said “There is no doubt in my mind that Tiffany is saying the truth.”
“Tiffany, when we saw her, she came over here, she was distraught,” Gonzalez said. “There was one witness, independent witness, who had never even met Tiffany before. Who actually saw this commercial fishing boat chasing her, you know, into Zapata, way into the United States, and as soon as she arrived with him to seek assistance, this boat made a u-turn and headed back towards Mexico. And the information that Tiffany provided, that there was four to five people in the boat, same information the witness provided.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com