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Ex-Texas jail warden and his brother are accused of fatally shooting a migrant who stopped for water

Michael and Mark Sheppard were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in the Sept. 27 shooting in West Texas.
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Two brothers, including a former jail warden, are accused of fatally shooting an undocumented migrant and injuring another who had stopped for water at a West Texas reservoir, an arrest affidavit obtained Friday shows.

Mark Sheppard and Michael Sheppard, both 60, were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in the Sept. 27 shooting 93 miles southeast of El Paso, according to the affidavit, which was dated Thursday and written by a Texas Ranger. 

Some congressional lawmakers described the shooting as a hate crime and called on federal authorities to investigate.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said the FBI is investigating but declined further comment. The agency's local field office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the shooting, Michael Sheppard, the former warden of a private detention center in Sierra Blanca, was fired by the company that operates the facility, a spokesman for the Lasalle Corrections told the Associated Press.

The spokesman, Scott Sutterfield, attributed the firing to “an off-duty incident unrelated to his employment” and declined additional comment, the AP reported.

According to the affidavit, the brothers were driving by a group of undocumented migrants who took cover in the brush. The driver stopped, backed up and got out, then leaned on the truck's hood and allegedly fired two shots at the group, according to the affidavit.

One was struck in the stomach and taken to a local hospital. Another died at the scene, the affidavit shows.

The migrants later told authorities that before the gunfire, one of the brothers could be heard shouting an expletive in Spanish and revving the truck's engine. As they looked up to see if the truck had driven away, they heard two shots, according to the affidavit.

Investigators checked cameras in the area and found a truck owned by Michael Sheppard, according to the affidavit. When authorities approached him, he admitted that the vehicle belonged to him but declined to discuss the shooting, the affidavit shows.

When investigators approached Mark Sheppard, he changed his account of the shooting, the affidavit says. He initially told authorities he wasn't at the reservoir, then said he and his brother were there to hunt.

El Paso County Detention Facility, in Texas.
El Paso County Detention Facility, in Texas.Google Maps

He said his brother used a shotgun to fire twice at what he described as a javelina, according to the affidavit.

Mark Shepard denied yelling anything and said that after the shooting, he and his brother went to a local water board meeting, according to the affidavit.

It wasn't immediately clear if the men had lawyers to speak on their behalf. Jail records showed that Mark Sheppard was being held at the El Paso Downtown Detention Facility.

Michael Sheppard couldn't immediately be reached for comment.