Officials blame 'political rhetoric and misinformation' after shots fired at San Antonio ICE office

Nicholas Wu

Officials blamed "political rhetoric and misinformation" after shots were fired at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in San Antonio, Texas, early Tuesday morning. 

Local TV station KENS 5 reported that suspects fired at the building,which includes the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field office and Jefferson Bank offices, around 3:00 a.m. CDT Tuesday morning on the northeast side of San Antonio. 

Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the San Antonio FBI, said in a press conference later Tuesday that “an unknown number of individuals in an unknown number of vehicles” fired shots at the building and came close to hitting federal employees in the building, according to the San Antonio Express-News. 

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“I want to stress to everyone that any attempt at any violence or illegal activity against a federal official will not be tolerated,” said Combs, who said the FBI would open a federal case on the shooting.

Combs said that ICE was targeted in the shooting since “all of the shots that we have found were on the floors where ICE has offices, so there is no question it is a very targeted attack.”

He slammed the shooting as an "act of violence" that could have resulted in the "assassination of a federal employee."

According to the Express-News, FBI officials said they were investigating a series of attacks against ICE facilities around the country.  

ICE issued a statement later Tuesday on the shooting, reported KENS 5. Daniel Bible, the San Antonio ERO field office director, said that "political rhetoric and misinformation that various politicians, media outlets, and activist groups recklessly disseminate to the American people regarding the ICE mission only serve to further encourage these violent acts.”

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer looks on during an operation in Escondido, Calif. on July 8, 2019.

"ICE officers put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe. This disturbing public discourse shrouds our critical law enforcement function and unnecessarily puts our officers’ safety at risk,” he continued. 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Service acting Director Ken Cuccinelli tweeted about the shooting on Tuesday, saying "@USCIS stands with @ICE as they work to enforce our laws and keep Americans safe," along with a picture of a bullet hole at the San Antonio office. 

A spokesperson for GEO Group, a private prison contractor that also runs some immigration detention centers, said that their offices, which were in the same office building as the ICE offices, were also shot at in the same incident. 

No one was injured in the shooting, and federal investigators from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security were searching for suspects. 

"We are deeply troubled by yet another targeted act of violence, and we hope that the perpetrator is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez. "Unfortunately, the dishonest narrative and lies that are being spread about the services our company provides on behalf of the federal government has led to the endangerment of our employees, of government employees, and the public.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, whose district includes the San Antonio office, said "we pray for the safety of these law enforcement personnel," urging the public to wait for the results of the investigation.

"This will not be tolerated," he added.  

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Antonio ICE office: Shots fired at ERO field office in Texas