The Border Patrol reported the first major instance of migrant caravan-related violence Saturday, saying a Honduran man threw rocks at agents to try to keep from being arrested Friday in Arizona.
The 31-year-old, whom authorities didn’t name, had climbed a tree to try to avoid capture, then lit the tree afire and began to throw rocks at the agents as well as a helicopter called in to help track him.
The man was eventually arrested, and agents said he told them he was part of the migrant caravan that had been in the news. They said he had previous arrests in the U.S. and had been deported back in June.
A local fire department had to be called to extinguish the fire.
Caravan members totaling as many as 10,500 have been massing on the Mexican side of the border in recent weeks, Homeland Security officials say.
While many images of the caravan show women and children, U.S. authorities say a majority of members are single adults, predominantly men, from Central America. That would make the Honduran man’s claims of caravan membership plausible.
President Trump last month had specifically warned of the danger of rock-throwing by caravan members, and had said agents should treat rock-throwers as if they were using firearms.
Indeed, rock-throwing, or “rocking” incidents, as they’re known to agents, can be violent encounters, often involving small boulders hefted at agents or their vehicles with enough force to shatter bones or dent trucks.
U.S. officials have been worried about caravan-related violence since watching thousands of people bust through Mexico’s southern border, tussling with Mexican police who’d been sent down to try to prevent them from entering.
It’s not clear why the Honduran man broke off from the rest of the caravans to attempt to enter on his own.
Agents had first detected him when they spotted footprints along the border just east of the Andrade, California, border crossing.