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2 Border Patrollers Fatally Shot

July 8, 1998 GMT

SAN BENITO, Texas (AP) _ Two Border Patrol agents were slain Tuesday in a gunbattle with a man suspected of killing a woman and her daughter.

The gunman, Ernest Moore, 24, was shot four times in the shootout and died hours later at a hospital, said Mike Swartz, a hospital spokesman.

The slayings of Susan Lynn Rodriguez, 28, and Ricardo Guillermo Salinas, 24, brought to four the number of Border Patrol agents killed on the job this year. Ms. Rodriguez is the first female Border Patrol agent to die in the line of duty.

Police in this Harlingen suburb of Rio Hondo received a 911 call of shots fired at a house at about 5:30 a.m.

An officer found 53-year-old Margarita Flores and her daughter, 31-year-old Dalia Morin, shot to death in a hallway in their home. Ms. Flores’ son, Dan Morin, 22, was critically wounded.

Police chief Carlos Gonzalez said Moore went to the house seeking a former girlfriend who was a house guest. The woman, whose name was not released, was home at the time of the shooting but not injured.

``We don’t know if he was trying to shoot her or not,″ Gonzalez said.

After the shootings, Moore fled in a pickup truck, then apparently abandoned it 10 miles away and began running, investigators said.

Sheriff’s deputies called for help, and three Border Patrol agents spotted him. A gunbattle broke out, with gunfire from an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle killing Mrs. Rodriguez and Salinas, Border Patrol spokeswoman Letty Garza said.

Sheriff’s deputy Raul Rodriguez was also wounded and hospitalized in stable condition.

The most recent Border Patrol agent slaying was June 3, when an officer was shot in the head by a suspected drug smuggler north of the Mexican border near Nogales, Ariz.

The last time a Border Patrol agent was killed in the line of duty in Texas was January 1996. In the 74-year history of the Border Patrol, 81 agents have been killed on duty.