The U.S. Border Patrol has reclassified the murder of Agent Javier Vega, Jr., to be a “Line of Duty Death” (LODD).
The announcement was made via email from the newly-appointed Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan and quickly posted to the website of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC).
NBPC Vice President Shawn Moran confirmed the information with Breitbart Texas on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are grateful that his murder was finally reclassified as duty connected,” Moran stated. “This will mean a great deal to his family, friends and fellow Border Patrol agents.”
Moran said the death was reclassified when the chief took a second look at the circumstances following the investigation by the Willacy County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney in preparation for the trial of Vega’s accused killer. Officials in Willacy County said that during an attempted robbery of Vega and his family who were on a fishing trip near the Mexican border with Texas, Vega took “distinctive law enforcement actions.”
With this new information that recently became available, Border Patrol officials took another look and determined there was now a nexus connecting his death as duty related. They recommended the reclassification. Chief Morgan concurred and made the decision.
The email announcement from Morgan stated:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On August 3, 2014, Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega, Jr. was killed during an aggravated robbery attempt near Harlingen, Texas while he was off duty. At that time, a committee of U.S. Border Patrol Chiefs reviewed all available information about the robbery attempt that resulted in Agent Vega’s murder and were unable to identify a nexus to employment. Without this nexus, the committee had no choice but to make the determination that Agent Vega’s death was not in the line of duty.
On September 20, 2016, the same committee of U.S. Border Patrol Chiefs re-evaluated the original determination in light of information identified during the intensive investigation completed by the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department. Based on this information, the committee determined that Agent Vega’s actions were indicative of his law enforcement training and that he instinctively reacted, placing himself in harm’s way to stop a criminal act and protect the lives of others. The committee has reversed its original decision and determined that Agent Vega did in fact die in the line of duty. I concur with the committee’s determination.
Agent Javier Vega Jr. will be added to the CBP Valor Memorial. The complete investigation, along with our conclusions, will be provided to the Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) board where they will conduct an independent review of the circumstances of Agent Vega’s death for inclusion in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Please join me in continuing to honor BPA Javier Vega, Jr.
Mark A. Morgan
U.S. Border Patrol
Vega’s name will now be added to the honor roll at the Customs and Border Protection Valor Memorial. His family will also now be eligible for the same benefits as other agents killed in the line of duty.
“This was a team effort,” Moran told Breitbart Texas. “We worked closely with the NBPC Local 3307 union and Members of Congress to make this happen.”
Breitbart Texas reported extensively on the murder of Agent Vega and the efforts by many to have his death reclassified as a LODD. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and John McCain (R-AZ) were joined by U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Representatives Filemon Vela (D-TX) and John Carter (R-TX). In August, on the second anniversary of Vega’s murder, the NBPC launched a petition campaign to try and help move the reclassification forward.
“Agent Vega dedicated his life to serving our country and protecting his community,” Sen. Cornyn said in response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas. “While today’s announcement is long overdue, this recognition will honor his service and begin to ensure his family receives the benefits they deserve.”
“I would like to thank Senator John Cornyn for joining with me to deliver justice to the family of Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega and I commend CBP and the Department of Homeland Security for classifying his death as being in the line of duty. Today’s announcement honors Agent Vega’s work, commitment and service to his country. I hope that today’s decision brings some measure of comfort to his family, his friends and his fellow agents,” Rep. Vela added.
(Disclosure: Breitbart Texas sponsored the Green Line podcast for the NBPC in an effort to provide a platform for agents to inform the public about the realities on the border and what Border Patrol agents face. Director Brandon Darby received an award from the Laredo chapter of the NBPC for his work in helping to defend and bring a voice to Border Patrol agents. Breitbart News assisted in covering funeral costs for a slain Border Patrol agent previously. Darby and Breitbart senior management have directly stated and shown that helping to bring a voice to the expressed needs and interests of Border Patrol agents is a top priority–personally, individually and together through Breitbart News.)
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.