Family Fears Stray Juarez Bullets Could Reach West Side El Paso Neighborhood

EL PASO, Texas - Maria Orozco and her husband play with their 14-month-old daughter in the front yard of their Sunset Heights home.

But family fun turns into cautious concern when Orozco talks about the violence across the border.

"It's kind of not safe and especially because we have the baby," she said.

The Orozco's home and many others on their street face the U.S. border with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Saturday afternoon they got a full view of the shootout between gunmen and municipal and federal police some 25 to 50 yards from the river banks.

According to Ramon Salinas, a spokesman for Mexico's federal police, gunmen attacked a municipal police patrol on a boulevard in Ciudad Juarez next to the border river. Federal police came in to help in the 30-minute shootout. One gunman was killed and three municipal police officers were wounded.

Orozco's husband said the sound of the gunfire went far beyond the scene of the shootout in Juarez.

"It sounded like 'ba ba ba ba ba,'" said Alejandro Alegabera. He said he and several other neighbors went outside to watch the action unfold from their front yards.

Law enforcement agencies on this side of the border sprang into action to protect El Pasoans. Doug Mosier, a spokesman for the Border Patrol, said Paisano Street was closed for about 30 minutes "in the interest of public safety."

Police in some areas also issued warnings to onlookers, at one point telling them to take cover.

"If the police tell you that the bullets could fly over here, ay no. It's something to think about," said Orozco.

"(Saturday, police) were telling my husband a car won't stop the bullet. He doesn't put the car in front anymore. He puts it in the driveway because he's scared something might happen," she said.

Orozco added that other Sunset Heights families have moved in the last few years, afraid the escalating violence could inch closer to their doorsteps.

"We are the only ones that have lasted the longest," she said. "The rest, they rent and then they leave. We pray to God that nothing happens to us".

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