El Paso Police say rock and not gunfire from Juarez likely responsible for damage to SUV in Sunset Heights

POSTED: 01:30 PM MST Dec 03, 2012    UPDATED: 07:36 PM MST Jan 14, 2014 
sunset heights vehicle shooting
EL PASO, Texas -

An El Paso Police sergeant investigating a possible shooting in the Sunset Heights area says he believes a woman's vehicle was damaged by a rock and not from gunfire.

The woman claimed her vehicle was struck by gunfire, possibly fired from Juarez at about 12:30 p.m. Monday.

"It didn't appear to be damage caused by a bullet, said El Paso Police Sgt. Darryn Clark, who was at the scene. "It just appears to be a dimple that is old.  It has rust in the center of it.  It doesn't appear to be new damage. You know we see things that have been shot like cars driving through neighborhoods and take pop shots at cars and things like that.  And there's a definite difference between a bullet hole and what we see on this car.  There's no hole its more like a dimple.  We're gonna process the vehicle.   We're gonna document it and forward it up the chain but everything appears to be okay. I made calls to communications they had no other reports of any kind of shots fired.  Based on everything that we've seen today, it doesn't indicate that is in fact a bullet."

The vehicle, white Lexus SUV, was parked in the 2200 block of Missouri near Randolph in Sunset Heights.

The woman was not injured.

Previous El Paso shootings involving gunfire from Juarez

In late February, Maria Romero was enjoying morning shopping in Downtown El Paso with her grandson, Santiago, when her life changed and she became a national story.

Romero was walking on Overland Street when she heard a loud pop and then felt pain in her left leg. That pain was from a gunshot wound from a bullet El Paso Police believe came from a shootout at the same time in Juarez.

The next, Maria Romero arrived at her Lower Valley home. She exited the vehicle on crutches.

"There really isn't anyone to blame," Maria said in Spanish about what happened.

Bryan Romero, Romero's son, said she was pushing her 1-year-old grandson in a baby carriage, shopping for molds because she bakes cakes and sells them. Santiago was not injured.

"Thank God (the bullet) hit me and not the baby," said Maria Romero.

Romero said she screamed when she heard a loud pop and saw blood running down her leg. "I never imagined something like this would happen in the United States," said Romero.

Romero moved to El Paso from Ciudad Juarez about five years ago and now lives about a block away from the border fence. She said the incident has not made her feel unsafe, but she is still shaken by the experience.

"Now I feel fortunate and with a greater will to live," said Romero.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said in February that a bullet that punctured Maria's calf in Downtown El Paso was believed to have come from Mexico.

Romero said police told her if the bullet had been fired from a close proximity, her leg would have been shattered due to the caliber of the bullet.

"We do take this extremely seriously," El Paso Mayor John Cook said in February. "This is another difficulty for El Paso and the border region when we're trying to highlight how safe our community is. This is still a great place to live."

El Paso Sheriff's Office Commander Gomecindo Lopez called the shooting "highly disturbing."

Guillen Middle School, Aoy Elementary and Hart Elementary were put on lockdown from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. following the shooting in February.

This is not the first time that a bullet from Mexico has been fired into El Paso.

A bullet struck Bell Hall on the UTEP campus on the evening of Aug. 21, 2010. Nobody was injured and UTEP Police believe the bullet may have been related to a shootout in Juarez, Mexico that occurred at the same time.

The shooting resulted in the temporary closure of Paisano Drive from Executive Center to Santa Fe Street in El Paso. One person was killed in the shootout in Juarez. There were no reported injures in El Paso.

At about 5 p.m. June 29, 2010 a bullet traveled from a shootout in Juarez through a ninth floor window of El Paso City Hall, then through an interior wall, before striking a picture frame and stopping.

Further investigation revealed that the north and south stucco walls of City Hall were struck by an additional six rounds at varying heights on the walls. El Paso City Hall did not appear to be the specific target of the rounds. City employees were inside City Hall during the incident. There were no reported injuries in El Paso from the incident.