CHULA VISTA, CALIFORNIA — A plainclothes Border Patrol agent clinging to the hood of a moving car shot and killed the woman behind the wheel in Chula Vista Friday afternoon, authorities said.
There were several witnesses to the 1 p.m. shooting, which occurred on Moss Street near Oaklawn Avenue in a residential area lined by stucco apartment complexes and small homes.
Border Patrol agents were in the neighborhood to serve a felony warrant when the agent was struck by the woman’s car, said Border Patrol Deputy Chief Rodney Scott.
The agent was lodged in the windshield and carried several hundred yards on the hood of the Honda, he said.
“Fearing for his life, he discharged his weapon to get the vehicle to stop,” Scott said. He was the only agent who fired.
The agent was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries, although witnesses said he appeared to be OK.
Family members identified the woman as Valeria “Monique” Alvarado, a 32-year-old housewife who grew up in Chula Vista and lived in Southcrest. She died at the scene.
She had five children, ranging in ages 3 to 17.
“I love her to the fullest. That’s my heart,” said her husband, Gilbert Alvarado, before choking up.
“She has a huge heart,” said cousin Bernice Ratcliffe.
Several family members sobbed and hugged each other after speaking with investigators, and they demanded answers.
“Where’s the evidence my wife threatened a trained officer?” her husband asked. “I want justice.”
They said they didn’t know what had brought her to that neighborhood.
Authorities did not release further information, including how the agent was struck.
Chula Vista police said the crash occurred on Moss closer to Broadway, and the car drove west, coming to rest near Oaklawn. A large dent was left in the windshield where the officer had impacted, police said.
Witnesses gave differing versions of how the shooting unfolded, including whether they saw the agent on the car.
Hector Salazar, who lives in the area, said he was standing at his mailbox looking through letters when he heard a man yell, “Stop!”
He looked up and saw a man in civilian clothing on the hood of a two-door car, aiming a gun at the windshield.
The man then started pulling the trigger, shooting about five rounds.
Salazar hit the ground, and moments later saw other plainclothes agents approach the car.
Eduardo Comacho, 22, was walking on Woodlawn Avenue with his friend when they heard about seven shots.
He saw a man in a red shirt, without a badge, holding his gun. He appeared shaken. Other undercover officers joined him, pulling out their badges as they walked.
“The lady was hanging out the door, barely moving,” Comacho said. The agents checked her pulse, and medics who arrived shortly after began CPR on her on the ground. Comacho could see what appeared to be bullet wounds in her chest, shoulder, arm and leg.
“He did not miss,” Comacho said.
Ayanna Evans, 19, who lives in a neighboring apartment complex, said she never saw the agent on the car.
She said she happened to look out the window to see the Honda backing up slowly, and a man in a red shirt walking toward the car.
“Then I heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’” she said. She yelled at her children and aunt with her in the apartment to get down.
Apartment resident Prince Watson said he also saw the driver going in reverse, with no one on the car.
“She wasn’t speeding or driving erratic at all. I heard the agent say, ‘Stop.’ He was in the street and started shooting and walking toward the car,” Watson recalled.
Authorities did not name who they were going to arrest, but said it was not the woman.
Christian Ramirez, an immigrant rights activist with Southern Border Community Coalition, said the shooting was “troubling.”
“The victim was not wanted by authorities and she was a U.S. citizen,” Ramirez said.