Off-duty border patrol agent shoots, kills attacker after interrupting car burglary

Jose Luis Magana

Police in San Antonio say a suspected burglar is dead after opening fire on an off-duty Border Patrol who interrupted him trying to break into a pickup truck in an apartment complex parking lot early Friday morning.

Officers responded to a shots fired call at the Dalian 151 Apartments around 2 a.m. on Friday, and when they arrived the found the off-duty agent, but the alleged burglar had already been spirited away by his buddies.

The agent told police he caught that man and three others breaking into a vehicle and confronted them.

He said one man pointed a handgun at him, while someone else shot at him.

The agent said he pulled his own weapon, hitting the man in his left armpit.

Police say the burglary suspects then carried the wounded man to a car and drove off.

Investigators later learned he had been dropped off at a hospital, where he died.

Back at the apartment complex, Brian Malott and his wife were trying to make sense of the gunfire that woke them up.

“She jumped up and went to the window. I said, ‘Babe, hit the ground. Go! Get down!’,” he said.

A few minutes later, Malott said he heard his neighbor, the border patrol agent, calling to him from outside.

“He told me, he said ‘Neighbor, someone was in your truck. Come out quick.’ So I came out. He had already, he got one of them,” Malott said.

As it turned out, Malott’s pickup is the vehicle the suspects had targeted.

He says they took a gun from the center console in his truck. He believes it is the same weapon the man pointed at the agent just before he was shot.

“The gun was laying here in a pool of blood,” he said, pointing to a wet spot on the ground.

And this is why it’s a bad idea to leave your gun lying around unsecured in an unattended vehicle. Take the five seconds to grab your firearm and bring it inside with you at the end of the day, or at least secure it if you’re going to leave it behind in your car or truck. Car thefts and break-ins are on the rise across the country, and guns are one of the first things that many thieves are looking for. In fact, according to one resident of the San Antonio apartment complex where the defensive gun use took place, this wasn’t the first time that thieves have targeted vehicles in the same parking lot.

Matthew Rios said he was surprised by the shooting, but not by the car break-ins.

“It’s definitely been a problem here,” Rios said.

He said a relative who also lives in the complex had her vehicle burglarized several times recently.

Rios said just Thursday morning, he discovered his car had been stolen.

“Walked up to the parking space and there’s glass all over the floor and then the car was gone,” he said.

Given all that it seems even more bizarre to me that Malott would have left his gun in his truck’s center console.

The bigger mistake, of course, was made by the group of individuals who targeted his and other cars in the first place; an error compounded when the now-deceased suspect grabbed a gun and fired at the off-duty officer who’d confronted them. What likely would have resulted in a relative slap on the wrist by the criminal justice system instead cost him his life. Thankfully the off-duty officer and nearby residents were unharmed, and based on the initial accounts this looks to be a pretty clear-cut case of self-defense, though we’ll keep an eye out for any updates from investigators.