THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD
UTB-TSC is mourning the death of an 18-year-old freshman who was shot and killed just outside Ciudad Mante in the southern part of Tamaulipas, allegedly by members of Mexican organized crime.
University officials said Jonathon William Torres Cazares died on Sept. 30 while traveling to visit family. He is believed to be one of two people killed after the bus he was riding in was hijacked, according to a U.S. official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"We are all greatly saddened by the loss of what we consider one of our family," said Juliet V. Garcia, president of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.
The U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros released a statement Friday, signed by spokesman Brian Quigley, expressing its condolences.
"We are in touch with the family and are offering all consular services available," the statement said.
Torres was born in Dahlonega, Ga., and had been pursuing an associate of arts degree. UTB-TSC police Lt. Armando Pulido said the university became aware of Torres’ death after the family contacted the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros.
Mexican officials have reported an increase in hijackings on Mexican highways. A source with firsthand knowledge of criminal activity in Mexico said authorities have acknowledged that they can best protect passenger buses between sunrise and 2 p.m. The time of the alleged attack on Torres’ bus was not known.
Garcia said she did not know the circumstances of Torres’ death but noted that the student was not on a university trip.
Out of concern for students, UTB-TSC faculty and staff had months ago halted the usual trips to Rancho Del Cielo, its field station and Matamoros, and had suspended travel to Mexico for research, meetings or conventions, Garcia said.
"We had stopped all university-related trips to Mexico several months ago as a result of what we expected to be a very dangerous environment for a while," Garcia said.
Although Rio Grande Valley residents have been raised to think of the border as blur between two countries, she said, "Right now, I think that we should rethink that habit."
The university has counseling services available for students through Student Health Services.