Brothers face charges in Hudspeth County shooting that killed one migrant, injured another

HUDSPETH COUNTY — Twin brothers Mark and Mike Sheppard were arrested on manslaughter charges last week in connection with the shooting death of a migrant man in Hudspeth County, and were released on $250,000 bonds on Monday, the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office said. The attack left another migrant injured.

On Wednesday, as The Big Bend Sentinel was going to press, the El Paso Times reported that the brothers were back in custody in Hudspeth County, having turned themselves in on assault with a deadly weapon charges. The Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office would not immediately confirm whether or not the brothers were back in custody.

Mark and Mike Sheppard of Sierra Blanca were arrested on September 29 in connection with the September 27 shooting, in which authorities say the two men pulled over along Farm Road 1111, around four miles south of Sierra Blanca, and shot at a group of migrants who were drinking water from a reservoir. 

One of the migrants, a man, was shot and killed at the scene, according to authorities. Another migrant, a woman, was shot in the stomach but survived, and was transported to Del Sol Hospital in El Paso.

American authorities have not released the names of the victims, but several media outlets have identified the deceased man as Jesús Sepúlveda Martinez and the surviving woman as Berenice Casias Carrillo. In interviews with El Paso Matters, the victims’ families have demanded justice for their loved ones. 

They are joined by elected officials and activists, who are calling for accountability in a crime they say was driven by bigotry. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting as a hate crime. RAICES Texas called the shooting “a hate crime driven by white supremacist culture,” stating the group had sounded the alarm on alleged abusive behavior by Mike Sheppard when he was warden at the West Texas Detention Facility.

According to an arrest affidavit, interviewed migrants told investigators that the mens’ vehicle started to pass their group at around 7 p.m., prompting them to hide — but the vehicle backed up, and the driver got out wielding a gun. The driver leaned on the hood of the car and fired two shots at the group before getting back in the car and driving away.

Migrants who were interviewed told investigators that prior to the shooting, one of the men had shouted in Spanish something to the effect of, “Come out you sons of b—-, little asses!” before revving the car’s engine.

Authorities traced the vehicle to Mike Sheppard, who said the car in question was his but was reluctant to speak to investigators when questioned about the shooting. Investigators then spoke to Mark Sheppard, who spoke to the agents but offered inconsistent versions of events.

First, he told them he hadn’t been at the site of the shooting, then changed his story and admitted that he and his brother had driven to the reservoir that evening, but to hunt animals — first he said birds, then ducks, then javelinas. He said he used binoculars to spot what he believed was a javelina, and that his brother fired two shots at it. He said they hadn’t gone to see if they had struck anything. The brothers attended a Hudspeth Water Board meeting afterward, he said.

The brothers were apprehended by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and were held in El Paso County Jail for several days. On Monday, they were transferred to the Hudspeth County Jail, where they were released on bond.

As of press time, the status of a criminal case remained unclear — the Hudspeth County Clerk’s Office said on Wednesday that no documents had been filed in the case. A spokesperson for the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office, which is tasked with prosecuting the case, said on Wednesday that law enforcement had not yet presented a case to their office. The Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office declined to answer any questions regarding the case, instead directing inquiries to the Texas Rangers, part of DPS. The Department of Public Safety would say only that the brothers had been transferred Monday from El Paso to Hudspeth County Jail.