A woman who was assaulted and nearly raped in 2007 by one of the two illegal immigrants charged with capital murder in the shooting death of border patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. this summer has come forward to share her story, saying she believes more could have been done to prevent Vega’s death.
“The system should have done something, back then,” the woman, going only by the name Virginia, told KRGV in a recent interview.
She says in June 2007, Gustavo Tijerina attacked her and attempted to rape her.
The 30-year-old Tijerina and his accomplice, Ismael Hernandez, 40, have admitted to shooting Vega during an attempted robbery on Aug. 3.
The off-duty Customs and Border Protection agent was fishing with his wife, two children and his parents in Willacy County, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley.
During the attempted robbery, Vega shot back at the two Mexican nationals. Both of Vega’s parents reportedly returned fire. Javier Vega Sr. was shot in the hip but survived.
Vega’s fellow border agents were reportedly furious over the circumstances of the shooting, given that both Tijerina and Hernandez had been arrested and deported numerous times prior to the shooting.
“If they would have punished him the way they should have, what he’s been accused of now, maybe some people would be alive right now,” Virginia said of Tijerina.
Virginia told KRGV that on the day of her June 2007 attack she was out delivering auto parts for her job at Autozone in Weslaco, Texas.
One stop was at a store where Tijerina worked, and he was the only one on duty. Tijerina told Virginia he knew nothing about the parts delivery.
Virginia said that when she went to leave, Tijerina followed her to her truck.
“I was afraid that day for my life, I really was,” Virginia told KRGV.
“He grabbed the truck and tried to pull the door open,” she said, adding that Tijerina grabbed her arm and attempted to pull her out of the car.
“He tried to unzip his pants and he pulled the door open, and I put it in reverse and he was literally hanging on the door,” Virginia continued, adding “my life was in danger, I could have been raped, I could have been killed.”
The Hidalgo County sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Tijerina’s arrest in November 2007 for the assault on Virginia, four months after it occurred.
According to a Fox News report from August, Tijerina, who is believed to have pulled the trigger during the robbery-gone-wrong, pleaded guilty on July 9, 2007 to illegally entering the U.S. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and charged a $10 fee.
He was picked up again on Oct. 4, 2007. He was charged the same $10 fee and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
In the case of Virginia’s assault, Tijerina pleaded guilty and spent 45 days in jail.
After the release he was apprehended two more times by border agents for illegal entry.
It is unclear if the assault on Virginia was factored into the sentencing decisions for those violations, though judging by the punishments he received the incident does not appear to have had much influence.
Tijerina received a 90 day jail sentence and another $10 fine for an Oct. 25, 2008 illegal entry charge, Fox News reported.
A grand jury indicted Tijerina on Dec. 15, 2009, again for illegal entry. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and fined $100 in that case.
Hernandez had been arrested and deported twice prior to Vega’s shooting. He claims that he was merely supposed to be a get-away driver after the robbery.